Massive boost for children’s hospital charity as winter ball surpasses goal

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WELL-known faces including deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, superbike champion James Toseland and his singer girlfriend Katie Melua were among the guests who helped to raise a huge £135,000 for a South Yorkshire charity at its winter ball.

A total of £135,000 was raised for The Children’s Hospital Charity in Sheffield, smashing the charity’s target of £70,000. The sum was due in no small part to the generosity of an anonymous telephone bidder, who paid £53,000 for golfer Lee Westwood’s donation of a place in the 2012 Dunhill Links Golf Championship.

Other prizes in the auction, which organisers said attracted bids from “not just around the room but around the world”, included a pair of Jessica Ennis’ signed running spikes and a pillion ride with Mr Toseland.

Patron Miriam González Durántez was joined by her husband Nick Clegg, who made an impromptu speech praising NHS staff and encouraging guests to “dig deep”.

Entertainment on the night included an acoustic set by Tom Chaplin, of rock band Keane.

The money raised at the event, at the city’s Ponds Forge sports centre, will enable The Children’s Hospital Charity to renew the hydrotherapy pool at the Ryegate Centre’s therapy block and also fund two three-dimensional “pain distraction units”.

Charity director David Vernon-Edwards said: “We have some incredibly generous supporters and we are so grateful to them all for their amazing contributions, especially when times are hard.

“This was our most successful winter ball yet and will enable us to change even more lives at the children’s hospital. We can’t thank everyone enough on behalf of the patients, families and staff at our amazing hospital.”

The hydrotherapy pool at Sheffield’s Ryegate Centre is used in the treatment of children with disabilities from across the Yorkshire region. The pain distraction units will help young patients through what the charity described as “painful and upsetting” clinical procedures.

Former England cricket captain and patron Michael Vaughan raised £185,000 in a trek along the Great Wall of China in September.