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No rain on this parade

/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/bobby_dazz.jpg/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/bobby_dazz.jpg/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/bobby_dazz.jpgNo rain on this parade

The relentless downpour could not dampen the spirit of the stars as they turned out for a great cause on a great course at Close House

The stars came out and the rain came down at a charity golf match aimed at raising funds for a vital hospital unit. Top names from television and sport gathered at Close House in Northumberland and, despite the unbelievably bad weather (how many times have we said that this summer?), the likes of Alan Shearer, Ant and Dec, Alan Hansen, Ben Shephard, Lee Westwood and Bobby Davro helped raise thousands at the Have a Heart Trophy golf challenge in aid of the Freeman Hospital’s pioneering heart unit in Newcastle.

The match – the second of its kind – is one of several spectacular annual fundraisers set in motion by Close House owner Graham Wylie and his wife Andrea, whose two-year-old daughter Kiera was saved twice by medics at the Freeman.

The Wylies have devoted themselves to raising the public profile as well as money for the Children’s Heart Unit Fund (CHUF), based at the Newcastle hospital and last year alone raised more than £250,000 through several fundraisers.

In total, 128 players made up the 32 Have a Heart teams. Lee Westwood, who represents Close House on the European Tour, had been due to arrive on the front lawn by helicopter, but his flight was forced to Newcastle Airport instead because of the poor visibility.

Champion jockey Tony McCoy was first to tee off, followed by fellow horse racing stars Daryl Jacob – who rode Neptune Collonges to victory in the Grand National – Ruby Walsh, Richard Fahey and Mick Fitzgerald. Football stars included Shola Ameobi, Ryan Taylor and Lee Cattermole, as well as former Newcastle United stars Peter Beardsley and John Beresford.

Newcastle Falcons player Ally Hogg was there to defend the trophy he won at the last event, together with the Falcons’ owner, Semore Kurdi and David Edwards, who brings his golf trick show event to Stressholme Golf Course, Darlington, on August 3. But they all shrugged off the rain as they prepared to get very wet – while remaining very good-humoured – out on the magnificent, £8m course.

On the first tee, Alan Shearer said: “This is a tough course and will be even tougher because of the rain but it will be enjoyable. Not only is this a really well-organised charity event but also for Graham, who is a good friend of mine, this is a cause very close to his heart.

“He’s done some great work for the charity over the last two years.”

Shortly after the Have a Heart day, Lee Westwood’s manager, Andrew “Chubby” Chandler, revealed the world number four is to continue to represent Close House for two more years after he moves to Florida. The agreement with the club and its attached touring professional was due to run out at the end of this year, but Chandler admits he and Westwood enjoy the association.

“What is also a factor is how comfortable the members make Lee feel when he visits,” he said. “An ongoing attachment until the end of 2014 will be officially announced soon – just the last few little details need finalising.”

The 39-year-old Westwood said: “The main factor behind my decision to move to Florida has always been the weather in Britain. It will make it easier to work on my game between tournaments.
“I have been delighted with the way I have been accepted at Close House and by the North East public in general. I have always made to feel welcome by everybody there, I always really enjoy my visits and hopefully we shall soon finalise it all with (owner) Graham Wylie, who has been a pleasure to deal with.”

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