It’s a winning event for Ian

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WHAT a result!

A celebrity football match has been declared a fantastic family affair with 1,500 turning up to watch the television stars take on a team of locals.

Favourites from the small screen won 7-3 against representatives of the Jo and Mya Memorial Fund, set up by Hartlepool businessman Ian Richardson, 40.

They battled it out at the home ground of Billingham Synthonia and raised more than £10,000 for the fund, which helps children who have lost loved ones.

Danny Miller, who played Aaron Livesy in Emmerdale, Ceallach Spellman from Friday Download, Ben Ryan-Davies from Waterloo Road, and some of the members of the band The Risk - which appeared on X Factor - lined up for the stars.

And in a moment of real pride for Ian, his three-year-old daughter Ava was among the mascots which led the teams out.

Ian, from Billingham, said: “She was probably wondering what it was all about but she did love running about and kicking a football.

“The comment and the feedback I’ve had has been phenomenal. The game had not even finished and the celebrities were asking us if they could come back next year.

“They were fabulous. They stood for 90 minutes after the match while they signed autographs and posed for photos.

“They were the nicest bunch of lads you could meet.

“In the end, we had 1,500 people turn up and I am delighted with that. We even had the weather. We had palpitations when the heavens opened on the weekend, but we had sun throughout the day.”

Ian, from Billingham, started the fund to raise money in memory of his wife Joanne, 40, and daughter Mya, six, who died in a road accident in August 2010.

Ever since, he has worked hard to help children who have lost loved ones.

He paid tribute to his fellow match organiser Keith Adams and said: “It is down to his organisational abilities that it all went so well.

“We had a team of 50 volunteers who turned up to help with the stewarding and other things like raffles.”

More events for the fund are on the way.

They include fund supporters tackling a “Rat Race” obstacle course on August 26, and the “yomp” to the summit of Roseberry Topping on a date yet to be fixed.

For more details, visit either the fund’s website at or the fund’s Facebook page.