FROM the heat of the jungle to the chill of a March night in the Tees Valley – it was quite a change of scenery for darts ace Eric Bristow.
But the star of I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, and a five times world darts champion, loved every minute of his time in Billingham where he supported a fundraising night for tragic dad, Hartlepool businessman Ian Richardson.
Speaking to the Hartlepool Mail as the snow fell outside, Eric joked: “It might be colder, but the food is a lot better than the jungle” and looked back on his time on the TV reality show as “a good laugh. I enjoyed it.”
He added: “I only did it as a bit of fun really. I am getting back to my own life now and I am picking the jobs I want to do.”
Eric and his good friend, fellow world darts champion John Lowe, spent the whole evening at The Swan in Wolviston Road, Billingham, where they took on locals in darts challenges, signed autographs and posed for photographs.
The down-to-earth pair went down a storm with the enthusiastic audience of more than 150 people, especially when the compere announced: “Every game Eric wins is a meal for the camp!”
But more importantly, vital funds were raised for the Jo and Mya Memorial Fund, set up by Ian Richardson.
Ian has thrown himself into fundraising ever since his wife Joanne, 40, and eldest daughter Mya, aged six, died in a car accident on August 8, 2010.
He and his youngest daughter Ava, now aged two, survived the accident and Ian set up the Jo and Mya Memorial Fund to help children who have lost loved ones.
It supports bereaved children and families affected by death and terminal illness, and has so far raised around £60,000.
John Lowe told the Mail: “Causes like this are a really good thing and it is great that the locals are supporting it. We are a nation of givers.
“It is great that so many people have come a long way to be here.”
Fans of the darts celebrities came from as far away as Newcastle and Washington to support the event and to watch local players take on Eric and John in games of one-leg 501 challenges.
Charity founder Ian said: “It is phenomenal that two people like Eric and John have supported our charity. This is still quite a new charity and we are still a little organisation so to get them here is wonderful.”
And while Ian didn’t know how much had been raised from the night, which also included a raffle of prizes including a signed football and carvery meals at The Swan, he said: “If its £100 or £1,000, it all helps. It is putting the name of the charity out there.”