A GROUP of celebrities are throwing their weight behind a bid to raise cash for a vital children’s heart unit.
GMTV presenter Ben Shephard and North East acting couple Denise Welch and Tim Healy, will be among the stars attending a Black Tie Ball to raise funds for the specialist unit at Newcastle’s Freeman hospital.
The glitzy evening will cap off a busy week for the breakfast TV star as he along with Ivan Hollingsworth and Andrew Roberts will have spent the previous five days running from Whitehaven to Tynemouth covering distances greater than a marathon each day.
The coast to coast challenge is usually carried out by cyclists but the three men will run every metre from the Irish Sea to the North Sea stopping to collect funds along the way.
The trio are inviting others to join them along part of the route. But Ivan’s wife Nadine has organised the gala dinner for those who prefer the idea of enjoying a meal and bidding in auctions to raise funds.
The couple have set themselves a target of raising £100,000 for the Freeman’s Children’s Heart Unit where their son Sebastian underwent life-saving heart surgery aged just 16 weeks. Nadine, 33, said: “The boys want people to join them for some sections of the run but not everyone can do that. I’ll be joining them for the section coming into Tynemouth but I also wanted to organise something else. We asked Ben if he would be happy to host the evening and he agreed.”
Sebastian was born at North Tyneside General Hospital in January 2009 but was immediately transferred to the Freeman. Only 15 hours after being born Ivan and Nadine from Whitley Bay were told their son had Tetralogy of Fallot – a condition affecting the heart.
Actress and TV presenter Denise is a patron of the Children’s Heart Unit. She said: “Since we moved away from Newcastle I haven’t dedicated as much time to it as I would have liked so this is an ideal opportunity to reconnect with it. When we are back in Newcastle for the event I want to pay a visit to the unit and also the new Teenage Cancer Trust unit.
“Ivan and Nadine have received the support of the wonderful staff at the hospital and have seen first hand how the dedicated and expert staff there can really make a difference to people. It’s great that they now want to fund equipment which will help other families.”
The Black Tie Ball will be held at Gateshead’s Hilton Hotel on Thursday August 5. For information visit: www.seb4chuf.org.uk