Former Newcastle United goalkeeper Steve Harper returned to St. James’ Park today to hand over a cheque for £327,833 which will benefit six North East charities.
The funds were raised as part of the Steve Harper 20 Years Charity Match which took place between Newcastle United and AC Milan legends teams at the stadium on Wednesday 11th September, honouring Harper’s 20-year spell with the Magpies between 1993 and 2013.
As well as boosting three principal beneficiaries – the Newcastle United Foundation, Great North Children’s Hospital and Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, there will now also be a share for the Alan Shearer Foundation, Clarke Lister Brain Haemorrhage Foundation and Toma Fund after overwhelming support from kind-hearted fans.
Almost 51,000 supporters packed out St. James’ Park for the one-off match, which saw some of the biggest names in British and Italian football descend on Tyneside to take part. Harper and ex-Toon teammates including Alan Shearer, Peter Beardsley and Andy Cole narrowly lost 2-1 on penalties to a Milan side featuring Franco Baresi, Paolo Maldini and Alessandro Costacturta following a 0-0 draw.
Steve Harper said: “I’m thrilled that the game has raised so much for these fantastic causes. These are charities which are very close to my heart and which mean a lot to many, many people in the region so it’s a pleasure to be able to make a positive difference to their work.
“I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who came along and supported the event and for making it such a special night. Knowing the North East as I do, such incredible support shouldn’t surprise me but it was overwhelming to have 51,000 people turning out. On behalf of the charities, we’re incredibly grateful.”
The Steve Harper 20 Years Charity Match was organised by the Newcastle United Foundation, which worked closely with Carl Dunn of Azzurri Sports Management and counterparts at AC Milan’s own Foundation to secure Milan Glorie appearance.
The Foundation, the official registered charity of Newcastle United, relies on independent funding to continue working with 47,000 young people and families in the North East each year and will channel its share of the proceeds into community projects across North and South Tyneside, County Durham and Northumberland.
Kate Bradley, head of the Newcastle United Foundation, said: “It was a privilege to not only organise the match on Steve’s behalf but to also help raise such a phenomenal amount for causes which help so many people throughout the region.
“The Newcastle United Foundation is celebrating its fifth anniversary this season, which is a significant milestone for us. The funds raised will assist us in working with even more disadvantaged young people and families than before as we bring the football club and the community closer. Our heartfelt thanks go to Steve for leaving this legacy from his 20 years at Newcastle United.”
Liz Luff, from the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, said: “The match was incredible. It was a very special evening and Steve deserved it after 20 years with the club. We were thrilled to be a part of the occasion and so pleased that Steve has chosen us as one of the beneficiaries.
“The funds will help us with the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation’s main aim which is to help find more effective ways to detect and treat cancer. Sadly far too many people know the pain that cancer causes families. We can do something about it and we are doing something about it and, thanks to people like Steve, we can continue to build on the legacy that Sir Bobby left us.”
Pauline Buglass, head of fundraising at Newcastle Hospitals, said: “We are absolutely honoured to have been chosen by Steve as one of the beneficiaries. The Great North Children’s Hospital is a fantastic facility and the generosity of Steve and everyone who supported the event will mean we can enhance the specialist care we offer to children and families across the North of England and even further afield.”