A family affair

25 November 2013

Alan Shearer singing at the Alan Shearer Foundation Ball 2013

Alan Shearer was keeping it in the family at a VIP ball which raised over £200,000 for his Foundation.

The football star's wife and charity patron, Lainya, was instrumental in the staging of the spectacular fundraising event for the Alan Shearer Foundation. She co-hosted the ball held at the NewcastleGateshead Hilton which was also attended by their son and two daughters, who also helped out on the night.

Although the headline act for the evening was pop star Olly Murs, the audience was treated to an impromptu singing performance by Alan's youngest daughter, Hollie, before Alan himself delighted guests with his own rendition of Lionel Richie's All Night Long accompanied by the Paul James Band.

Partygoers included renowned business magnates and regular supporters Graham Wylie and Freddy Shepherd as well as well as former soccer teammate, Rob Lee and guests from the Professional Footballers Association, the Emirates Group and AkzoNobel. They had earlier heard how proceeds from the glittering evening would be used to maintain and develop vital facilities and services for profoundly disabled people and their families at the Alan Shearer Centre in Newcastle.

Special guest at the ball was Rachel Kaczmar who told the audience, first hand, just how important the Alan Shearer Centre is to her son, Max, who has just turned one and was diagnosed with complicated medical conditions when he was in the womb.

"One of the reasons he's doing so well is because of the Centre. There's such a warm welcoming feeling. It's our favourite place to go where we feel like everyone else, which means a huge deal to us and every other family that uses the Centre," said Rachel.

It was also a poignant evening for Austin Donohoe, Chief Executive of St Cuthberts Care, whose last charity ball it was before his retirement at Easter next year. It was his vision for a specialist centre for disabled people which become the Alan Shearer Centre eight years ago.

He told guests exactly why the money raised through the Foundation was vital to some families with profoundly disabled relatives, and particularly those who use the respite care service at the Centre.

"Most of the people who use it have severe epilepsy, autism, and few can speak. They rely on the skills and training of the staff who meet their every need - from helping with eating and every personal care to socialising in the community," he said.

"The work can be physically exhausting, but it's what we do. It's St Cuthberts Care - it's who we are."

The phenomenal sum, which will be used to fund facilities and capital development at the Centre, was raised through ticket sales for the invitation-only event, a raffle for a £5,000 watch and an auction of money-can't-buy items such as dinner with the Ryder Cup Europe Captain Paul McGinley, and a VIP trip to Rio for the football World Cup.