THEY have answered the plea of a Hampshire cricketer who must lose a leg to escape the excruciating pain that is ruining his life.

Wellwishers have dug deep to fund the £15,000 operation needed by Rob Franks, who launched a major appeal after the NHS refused to pay for the life-changing surgery.

Last night 39-year-old Rob said he had been “blown away” by the public’s response to his fundraising campaign.

“The support I’ve had has been overwhelming,” he said.

“I’ve actually cried because people have been so so generous.

“Every penny is so appreciated.”

A combination of problems, including a tumour and a fracture that will never heal, means amputation is the only way of relieving the crippling pain he has suffered for three years.

Married with a six-year-old son and an 11-year-old stepson, Rob, 39, is head coach at Ellingham Cricket Club in the New Forest.

He was injured playing cricket in 2011 and was found to have an aggressive tumour in his left knee.

The former chef had an operation but a routine check-up two years later showed the growth had returned and was even bigger than before.

A second operation left Rob with nerve damage, forcing him to use crutches and a wheelchair to get around.

In 2014 he joined a cricket club for people with disabilities but suffered a broken leg during only his second game for the side.

In a four-hour operation surgeons managed to repair the break with pins, plates and a metal rod but Rob has been in agony ever since and has to take some of the strongest painkillers available.

He said: “I’m withdrawn and cry a lot because of the pain - the tablets don’t touch it.”

After deciding to have his left leg amputated above the knee Rob was warned he would have to fund the surgery himself because he was not eligible to have it done on the NHS.

A private consultant has agreed to carry out the operation the sportsman hopes will end his misery.

Rob, of Poole, intends to buy two prosthetic limbs – one that will enable him to continue to play the sport he loves and one for day-to-day life.

Writing on his Go Fund Me Page he says: “I don’t want to be in pain any longer.

“I want to be the husband my wife Carla deserves, not someone who is forced to stay at home and not go out on walks and family days.

"I want to be able to play with my two children in the garden, I don’t want to say ‘no’ to them anymore."