James Brown doll back on the scene

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A BUSINESSMAN who won an auction for the all-singing all-dancing James Brown doll has handed it back so even more cash can be raised for charity.

The chairman of Hartlepool Borough Council, Councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher, was left fuming after an online auction on eBay for the doll, made famous by Jeff Stelling, was sabotaged, costing seven town charities thousands of pounds.

In stepped businessman Jon Whitfield, a director at Hartlepool-based Euro Property Management, who handed over £1,000 for the doll.

But now, Jon has handed the doll back to Coun Akers-Belcher who is going to run a raffle giving people the chance to win the doll as well as a £500 cash prize.

“Our bid of £1,000 wasn’t so much for the doll but to support Councillor Akers-Belcher’s seven charities.

“So we decided we would give the doll back to him in the hope he can raise even more cash.

“With the doll being made famous by Jeff Stelling, hopefully it will attract plenty of attention.”

The doll was first brought into the public eye when Hartlepool-born Sky Sports presenter Jeff unleashed it on the desk on his Soccer Saturday show when former Hartlepool United James Brown forward hit the net.

With Brown having left Victoria Park for Gateshead in the summer, Jeff decided to find a new home for the 20inch doll and donated it to Coun Akers-Belcher so he could use it to boost his charities.

Every penny which has already been raised and will be raised in the raffle is supporting the Belle Vue Youth project, Central Correctors, Hartlepool Young Carers, Nurturing Young People’s Development (NYPD), The Phoenix Funsters, The Rifty Youth Project and the Wharton Annexe.

Coun Akers-Belcher said: “I’m absolutely delighted to have the opportunity to raise even more cash for the charities with the doll.

“I’m really grateful to Jon for stepping in and saving the day when we had a situation where the online auction was hijacked.

“Fortunately we had a good town businessman who was very charitable and assisted us.

“And now he is allowing us to raise even more cash for the charities which is great.”

People can buy a raffle ticket now for £1, which also gets them in the draw for a prize of £500 cash.

The cash draw will take place at the end of next month and the draw for the doll will be held in April.

To buy a ticket call (01429) 523704 or call in to Hartlepool Civic Centre.