A GROUP of kind-hearted Solihull football players raised more than £4,000 for charity in memory of a young team-mate who tragically lost his life.
The Damsonwood Blues FC team held a fund-raiser in a Solihull bar to pay tribute to their 22-year-old friend, Mark Handford.
They hope the event will become a regular occasion and have even set up a fund in Mark’s honour.
Mark, from Shirley, died while at work on a building site in Redditch in August 2009.
An inquest into his death is to be resumed next month.
Damsonwood Blues manager Terry Turner said: “It was a great honour and privilege to hold our annual presentation as a joint memorial fund-raising night.
“It was great to see so many people dig deep for a worthy cause and to honour Mark.
“We managed to raise just over £4,000 and sold over 2,500 raffle tickets. It just shows how people come together, even when times are hard.”
He added that the team was already planning more events to raise funds for the charities chosen by Mark’s family – Acorns Children’s Hospice and Midlands Air Ambulance.
Terry said: “The Mark Handford Memorial Night will now become an annual event in the Damsonwood Blues calendar.”
Lots featured in a special auction drew in hundreds of pounds in donations, including a signed Lewis Hamilton photo which attracted £250 and an autographed football shirt from Aston Villa – Mark’s favourite team – which brought in £125.
Generous employees at Bardello’s bar and restaurant offered the venue, bar staff and DJ for free.
Through Acorns the team has set up the Mark Handford Golden Oak Tribute Fund to support children with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions.
A tree can be planted in Mark’s memory as part of the project.
Mark’s mum, Julie, said the family had been “overwhelmed” by the number of people who attended the event and by their kindness.
She added: “It was a wonderful tribute to Mark, who is loved and missed by us all.”