HARTLEPOOL United manager Colin Cooper has spoken of his pride at how a charity set up in memory of his son continues to grow.
The 47-year-old Pools manager was today in London at an event held at Parliament where MPs from across the major political parties showed their support for The Finlay Cooper Fund.
The fund was formed in 2006 by Colin and Julie Cooper, who lost their son, Finlay, when he was two years old in a tragic choking accident in 2002, because they wanted to remember him and help children’s charities.
Since then, a staggering £350,000 has been raised and MPs recognised that achievement at a House of Commons event, where supporters from Colin’s previous clubs, including Middlesbrough and Nottingham Forest, also attend.
Colin said: “I’d like to thank trustee Mark Davies, he’s the one who pushed it and it is an amazing thing.
“We are 12 years down the line and people are giving us sympathy.We don’t need sympathy – we’ve been through that – we are just trying to do something positive and going to the Houses of Parliament is something I feel hugely privileged to be able to do.
“It is not going to be a massive fundraising evening it is going to be something to raise the profile - how many charities get the opportunity to do that?”
The Pools manager also praised the hard work and commitment of all the trustees involved in the Finlay Cooper Fund.
He added: “We have driven it for a while but it’s great that more and more people are coming along saying they want to raise money.
“Finlay wasn’t ill but we just felt that we wanted to try to do something good.
“Where we go from here, goodness only knows.
“But we do recognise we are only small, me and Julie both work and so do Nick Waites, Lee Bramley and Graham Fordy all work for a living.
“We dedicate as much time as we can, but it’s not a full-time thing. Some charities have fundraising managers who get a full-time wage, we have no overheads and we are trying to maintain that.”
After leading a team of 15 fundraisers up Kilimanjaro last year to raise more than £100,000 for the Finlay Cooper Fund, Cooper is now inviting fans, keen walkers and those up for a challenge, to join him for the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge.
Colin added: “We are doing the three Yorkshire peaks on June 21 and people are welcome to come and join us. If they don’t like idea of running 13-and-a-bit-miles or climbing a mountain, then maybe a trek across the Yorkshire Moors might appeal instead.
“If people want to come and raise money for the Finlay Cooper Fund then we’d kit them out with T-shirt and get them ferried across as well. If mother nature is kind to us we can have a good stroll.”
On Saturday, June 21, the longest day of the year, they will an attempt to trek up Pen-y-Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough all in just 12 hours. Entry is £15. To apply to take part and for more details see the charity’s website at www.finlaycooperfund.co.uk/yorkshire-threepeaks