Celebrities from the small screen and sporting world enjoyed a charity golf match in the sunshine to help raise money for the North East’s children’s heart unit.
Former world number one golfer Lee Westwood led a top list of players including Ant and Dec, Alan Shearer, Ben Shephard and Anton du Beke at the Have a Heart Trophy golf challenge.
It is the third year that the event has been staged at Close House Hotel in Heddon-on-the-Wall, Northumberland, to raise cash for the Children’s Heart Unit Fund (CHUF).
In all, 33 teams took part in the event yesterday and spectators enjoyed watching their favourite celebrities go around the golf course.
Entrepreneur Graham Wylie, who owns Close House, organised the event to raise funds for the Freeman Hospital to thank the medical team for saving his daughter Kiera’s life.
Kiera was born in December 2009 with a rare heart defect and since then she has done amazingly well and will start school in September.
Graham said: “It is very important to raise money for the children’s heart unit as the hospital is brilliant for what they do for surgical work, and to upgrade the accommodation block is essential for people who come from outside the region.
“With this event we will put a large sum in the bank for the charity. I could have just written out a very big cheque and said ‘thank you for saving my daughter’s life’ and that would have been easy to do.
“But I want to do something that is sustainable and go on year after year after year, probably even after I’ve gone, and events like this start to do that.”
Former Newcastle United goalkeeper Steve Harper was one of the first to tee-off, with Alan Shearer not too far behind.
Shearer said: “It is for a great cause and there’s been a great turnout by the celebrities who have all come from far away. We’ve had a great day and it’s been perfect weather.
“Graham does a huge amount for the Children’s Heart Unit Fund and people are prepared to travel hundreds of miles to come and support him and the charity.”
Other football stars included ex-Toon midfielder Rob Lee, who said: “The object of the day is to raise money and you can’t get a better cause than a hospital service for children.”
Geordie duo Ant and Dec, who were playing with Lee Westwood and Alan Shearer, said they were nervous before they teed off. Ant, who has a golf handicap of 21, said: “We have been out on the golf course practising. Lee Westwood and Alan Shearer are two of our sporting heroes and it is great to play with them. We haven’t disgraced ourselves and we’ve had fun as well and all for a good cause.” Dec, who has a handicap of 22, added: “The Freeman Hospital does such great work, giving hope to people and keeping the kids’ spirits up when they have to. We were really humbled when we visited the unit for the first time a year or two back and the work they’re doing is phenomenal.”
Lee Westwood said: “People in the North East are rightly proud of the children’s heart unit and when you’re in a lucky position like me playing golf for a living, it is nice to give back.”