A host of celebrities are in the North East today to take part in a charity golf match to help raise money and show support for the region’s children’s heart unit.
For the third year, former world number one golfer Lee Westwood will lead a star cast around Close House Hotel and Golf for the Have a Heart Trophy Challenge.
Geordie favourites Ant and Dec, football stars Alan Shearer, Shola Ameobi and Peter Beardsley, Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew, and TV personalities Anton du Beke and Ben Shephard are among those taking part.
The event is organised by entrepreneur Graham Wylie, owner of the Heddon-on-the-Wall hotel, in way of thanks to Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital for saving his child’s life.
Graham’s young twin daughter Kiera was saved by the team at the hospital’s heart unit after she was born with a complex heart defect in 2009.
Since then, both he and his wife Andrea have vowed to raise cash for the Children’s Heart Unit Fund (CHUF).
Last year, more than £100,000 was raised and it is hoped that a similar amount will also be generated by today’s event through entry fees and auction.
There is no doubt that the weather will be better today as it rained heavily during last year’s event.
Prizes this year include a signed electric guitar by Who frontman Roger Daltrey; exclusive use of the Lee Westwood Filly course at Close House; playing golf with Lee Westwood; tickets to watch Saturday Night Takeaway and a day at the races. The money raised will benefit the Children’s Heart Unit and a new parents’ accommodation block that is being built for families of children treated at the unit.
John Glendinning, general manager of Close House, said: “It’s going to be the biggest one yet in terms of the numbers coming, the profile of the celebrities we have, and hopefully the amount of money we are going to raise.
“The fact we have so many high-profile celebrities coming shows what a great cause it is.
“They are very keen to support us as they have seen what a great event it is.”
North East-based charities The Sick Children’s Trust and CHUF recently launched a ï¿½2m campaign to build a “home from home” for families whose child is being treated at the region’s unit.
CHUF is donating £1m towards the project and Sage co-founder Graham is working with the charities to raise an additional £1m.
Graeme said: “It is a well-known fact that my own daughter Kiera received life-saving treatment at the Children’s Heart Unit at the Freeman Hospital, and as a parent I know first-hand just how important it is to be close to the hospital, for what can invariably be many months of treatment.
“I have pledged to raise £1m to help build the family accommodation, and hope the North East will once again dig deep to support CHUF. We are so very lucky to have this pioneering and skilled team in our region.”
I know first- hand just how important it is to be close to the hospital