LES HEYHOE: Fundraising night was a huge success

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IT WAS a celebratory weekend for me last weekend because I turned 60 and it was mine and Lyn’s 35th wedding anniversary.

It was also our annual charity horse racing night at HMS Sultan on Friday.

To date, Lyn and I have raised more than £150,000 for local and worthy causes.

This evening was no exception, with £3,500 being added to the total.

The money will support Gosport teenager Alicia Pannell, 13, who was born 10 weeks prematurely, and during her first few days of life she suffered a haemorrhage to her brain which resulted in her being diagnosed with cerebral palsy and hydrocephalus.

Alicia’s parents, Sharon and Lee, attended the event, which was a sell-out with 300 in attendance.

It was so popular more than 200 people had to be turned away.

The rest of the money will go to Gosport Old Age Pensioners’ Christmas party which is being hosted by the members of the Warrant Officers’, Senior Ratings’ and Senior Non-Commissioned Officers’ Mess at HMS Sultan on December 8.

They will be wined and dined and served by volunteer mess members.

My good friends, Michael ‘Tommy’ Atkinson, 74, formally of the Royal Engineers, and 69-year-old Trevor Rafferty, formerly of the Royal Artillery, are Chelsea Pensioners.

We invited them to witness the Royal Navy way of charity horse racing, and they kindly stepped in to assist and help proceedings with the dice throwing.

They had no idea what the evening was all about, but it soon became apparent.

Just a week earlier Trevor was seen prominently on BBC1’s Festival of Remembrance coverage at the Royal Albert Hall.

He said to me: ‘What a fantastic evening and a really fun way to raise lots of money for worthy causes.

‘I’ll report back to the RH Sgt Major that Les and Lyn have volunteered to entertain the 300 pensioners in RHC and hopefully we’ll see them again some time in 2017.

‘I wish to thank the HMS Sultan mess for hosting us for the weekend and all Gosport attendees for their hospitality, kindness and respect during the evening, especially as everyone wanted to be photographed with us.’

Lyn and I have been short-listed for The News’ We Can Do It Awards taking place at the New Theatre Royal, on Sunday. We are both really looking forward to it.

Les Heyhoe is a champion fundraiser from Gosport