Charity night was just Champion

Bob Champion (centre) with Trimdon Colliery and Deaf Hill Workingmen's Club chairman Stephen Gillan and Stephen's partner Angela Redgrave.

Bob Champion (centre) with Trimdon Colliery and Deaf Hill Workingmen's Club chairman Stephen Gillan and Stephen's partner Angela Redgrave.

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A RACING legend was the mane attraction during a charity night held at a social club.

Bob Champion MBE, who won the 1981 Grand National on Aldaniti, was described as a “proper gentleman” when he visited Trimdon Colliery and Deaf Hill Workingmen’s Club.

Bob was at the venue as part of a tour of local pubs promoting The Bob Champion Cancer Trust.

The highlight of the evening, which attracted more than 60 people and raised £860 for the trust, was a race night.

Now pub regulars are looking forward to the Grand National, as Marcus Armitage will be riding a horse in the veterans’ race on their behalf and any winnings will go to Bob’s charity.

Club chairman Stephen Gillan said: “It was a fantastic night.

“Bob was a proper gentleman.”

Bob donated a limited edition picture of Aldaniti for an auction.

The winning bidder was Peter Robinson, regional manager of Heineken UK, which owns John Smith’s, the official sponsor of the Grand National.

Mr Robinson, who is from Hartlepool, kindly donated the picture back to the club and it will go on display at the venue, based in The Square.

Mr Gillan added: “Bob showed a video of how he was diagnosed with cancer and how they had made the movie about his life.

“The whole room was quiet when it was on.

“He also did a marvellous speech.

“Everybody spoke highly of him and he signed autographs.”

Bob, a Guisborough-born former jump jockey, won his first race aged just 15.

He had dreams of winning the Grand National, but his career took a major detour when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1979.

Due to sheer determination, he defied medics’ advice and he set his sights on winning the 1980 Grand National.

A large-scale infection nearly claimed his life and he was forced to put off his ambitions temporarily.

But he was soon back in training and in 1981, he rode Aldaniti to victory, despite speculation that the pair would fail due to Bob’s cancer and three leg injuries for the horse.

Bob’s remarkable feats were the subject of a 1983 film called Champions, which starred John Hurt.