Rugby player Danny Cipriani and his Gloucester teammates will pay tribute to Caroline Flack at their next Gallagher Premiership match.
The sports star, who has said he is “grieving hard” following the death of his ex-partner, will lead his teammates in wearing black armbands for Friday’s home game against the Sale Sharks.
The armbands will be embossed with the words “Be kind” to raise awareness of mental health issues.
Cipriani, 32, dated Flack – who took her own life at the age of 40 earlier this month – last year.
He said: “Caroline was one of the most caring, genuine people I ever met.
“She endured unimaginable criticism during her years in the public eye but through it all, she just wanted people to show a little kindness to each other. And that’s a message that should be her legacy – be kind.
“We all have spells of self-doubt, anxiety and low points. Nobody needs other people to point out their flaws and make them feel worse about themselves. A little kindness goes a long way.”
The Gloucester Rugby Foundation has also teamed up with the Samaritans to heighten the awareness around mental health.
They will donate £5 from every ticket purchased for Friday’s match to the Gloucester and District Samaritans.
The match tribute comes after Cipriani shared a message Flack had sent him about the court case she was facing before her death.
On Wednesday he posted a screenshot on Instagram of a recent WhatsApp exchange between the pair.
After Flack said she was “OK”, Cipriani asked: “Why you just OK? Want you smiling”.
The Love Island host replied: “Well, got court case coming up.”
Flack stepped down from presenting the winter series of the ITV2 dating show after an alleged assault on her boyfriend, Lewis Burton.
She pleaded not guilty and was released on bail but was ordered to stop having any contact with Mr Burton ahead of a trial, which was due to begin in March.
“She wasn’t allowed to talk to her boyfriend throughout the case because of the law. He wanted the charges dropped. They wanted to pursue. I am not pointing fingers,” Cipriani said.
“The CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) and police do a good job. Just saying we can’t always do a good job. This is my grieving process.”
View this post on Instagram
Black dot. Before i start. This is my grieving process. Which is talking. A lot. Which my friends and family and teammates have had to take this last 10 days because Iâm grieving. And Iâm grieving hard. Hence Iâm talking a lot. Iâm not sure Iâd be strong enough if I didnât understand or see myself in her. Pain is pain. It doesnât matter if youâve lost a cat. Or been called a name. No ones pain is worse or less. Because it is individual to them and how they take it. So… Black dot. If you judge the first pic you see a black dot. But i didnât really know what she meant when she called me black dot. Until her best friend told me on Sunday last week. âShe used to call you black dot, now i know, your WhatsApp pic is a black dotâ – so i changed my WhatsApp pic to a black dot about 5 months ago because i felt there were people who had my number who i couldnât trust. Ultimately i would have let them into my life. So ultimately i would have to ask myself why. Anyway. This story is about the beauty she found in a situation i found uncomfortable. âIâm just talking to black dotâ she would say. She was kind beyond belief. And she would think i am crazy doing all this. But i know she would be proud. Iâm taking lent off social media. Thank you all for the kind messages. And all the lovely response. Thank you for the bad response. Itâs my story. And i did it for me. Then her – she wasnât allowed to talk to her BF throughout the case because of the law. He wanted the charges dropped. They wanted to pursue. I am not pointing fingers. The CPS and police do a good job. Just saying we canât always do a good job. This is my grieving process. Our greatest strength is our greatest weakness â¤ï¸ ps – I was shown how to disable comments. So Iâm going to do so on this post. Because itâs for me and my grieving process. But in a month i will be back on social because thatâs 2020 and this is me navigating my way through life
Cipriani said Flack’s nickname for him was Black Dot and “she was kind beyond belief”.
He had previously told his fans he was going to play a voice note Flack “left about 15 days ago because people need to hear it”.
Flack’s management company have criticised the CPS for pursuing a “show trial” with the TV host’s assault charge.
The CPS later outlined how it reaches decisions over whether or not to charge someone with a criminal offence.
Can we all just agree that posting Caroline’s personal texts is a massive betrayal? Please consider that if for some reason you are thinking of doing it. She’d absolutely hate it.
— Dawn OâPorter (@hotpatooties) February 26, 2020
Hours after Cipriani’s post on social media, Flack’s friend, TV presenter and writer Dawn O’Porter, tweeted: “Can we all just agree that posting Caroline’s personal texts is a massive betrayal?
“Please consider that if for some reason you are thinking of doing it. She’d absolutely hate it.”
Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan also recently shared a private message sent to him by Flack regarding actress and former T4 host Jameela Jamil.
Morgan tweeted: “Jameela Jamil is having a lot to say about online harassment, so in the interests of balance, here is a message Caroline Flack sent me last October after the same Jameela Jamil led an online pile-on against her regarding a new TV show she was doing.”
Jameela Jamil is having a lot to say about online harassment, so in the interests of balance, here is a message Caroline Flack sent me last October after the same Jameela Jamil led an online pile-on against her regarding a new TV show she was doing. pic.twitter.com/zegVBVEseY
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) February 23, 2020
The message appeared to show Flack saying “I’m struggling with Jameela.. The hate she aims at me.”
Flack’s message was thought to be referring to Jamil’s criticism of a Channel 4 programme she was part of called The Surjury, which featured people pitching ideas for their dream surgeries to convince a jury of peers and experts to approve their life-changing operations. Following Flack’s death, Channel 4 said it will no longer air the show.