Hollyoaks soapstars taking on Burnley Clarets, Blackburn Rovers and Preston North End legends for charity Bamber Bridge football match

A Chorley man is bringing TV stars to town for a Bamber Bridge football match in aid of two Lancashire hospices and the Len Johnrose Trust.

Friday, 24th January 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 28th January 2020, 4:13 pm
Tony Cartwright's mum and sister fund-raising.

A team of celebrities, including Hollyoaks actors, will take on footballing legends formerly playing for Blackburn Rovers, Preston North End, Burnley and Swansea, plus special guests like Billy from D.I.Y. SOS, during a charity match at Bamber Bridge Football Club. Kick off is at 3pm on Sunday, May 10.

The event, named Len's Eleven V TV Soap Star Eleven, will help raise much needed funds for the East Lancashire Hospice in Blackburn, St Catherine's Hospice in Lostock Hall and The Len Johnrose Trust, which raises awareness of motor neurone disease (MND).

Organiser Tony Cartwright said the causes are close to his heart, adding: "My sister died in a hospice and I've seen what motor neurone disease does to people. I can't do a lot to help but I'll do what I can."

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Former professional midfielder Len Johnrose, who's made more than 400 Football League appearances for six clubs, including Bury, Blackburn Rovers, Swansea and Burnley, set up a charity in his name after being diagnosed with MND. The condition, which affects the brain and nerves, robs people of the ability to move, talk and breathe. There is currently no cure.

Tony met Len a year ago after asking the footballing legend to hand out trophies at an event organised by the Blackburn Rovers Community Trust.

"If there's anything I can do for him, I will. I like Len because he's very truthful - he says what he wants to. He's such a nice, honest chap and there aren't many about in this world now," he said.

The 60-year-old volunteer has now been supporting good causes for nearly three decades.

He said: "I started fund-raising for charity 27 years ago when my son was born and he'd been taken into hospital. I helped collect funds for basic essential items like fans for the ward.

"For my 60th birthday, I raised more than £600 for the two hospices and The Len Johnrose Trust. It was better than presents."

Tony hopes the charity match in May will also help raise awareness for the three causes.

"We need to get the word out there. If everyone did their bit, it'd be a better place," he said.

But it's also about having fun and providing inspiration to people, who have the chance to meet their TV idols, according to Tony.

"You can expect a really good, entertaining day out where you can get selfies and autographs with the stars," he added.

"It means everything that they've come along. It's hard to get stars to even talk to you, never mind come along. These guys give everything. It's just nice to have their support and get the job done.

"I'd also like to thank The Dressers Arms pub in Wheelton for offering free accommodation and meals so we can host the stars, as well as our sponsor Brendan Ainscough, who once owned Ainscough Crane Hire.

"We just want everyone to come along, get involved in community spirit and show that Bamber Bridge can make a difference."

If you're interested in volunteering as a match steward on the day, please contact Tony on 07305 296253.