Northern Ireland team donates £46k Euro 2016 fees to children’s cancer charity
Cancer Fund for Children will receive £46,000 from the generous footballers
The Northern Ireland team have donated their £46,000 Euro 2016 match fees to a children’s cancer charity.
The players took time out of their preparations for Tuesday’s friendly against Croatia to visit Cancer Fund for Children’s Daisy Lodge in Newcastle, Co Down, on Sunday.
Manager Michael O’Neill, captain Steve Davis and others were given a tour of the £3m therapeutic centre and met with some of the young people and their families who use the facility.
Gareth McAuley also donated the shirt he wore in Northern Ireland’s 2-0 win against Ukraine - which saw him score the side's first ever European Championship goal - for an online raffle.
McAuley launched the raffle at Daisy Lodge, where he and the rest of the Northern Ireland squad saw first-hand the difference residential support makes to the lives of families devastated by a childhood cancer diagnosis.
The West Brom defender said the team wanted give back and do something "positive" following their success at the Euros.
He said: “I have been lucky in football to have had a lot of great experiences and to have some wonderful memories. I wanted to donate the shirt to the Cancer Fund for Children to give something back and to raise as much money as possible for a great cause.
“The shirt is something that is very special to me, so hopefully it will go to a good place.”
The Northern Ireland Euro 2016 squad was made up of players from various leagues including the Premier League, Championship and League One, and every player has given up their match fees.
The money received from the footballers will help the charity continue to offer practical, emotional and financial support as well as free short therapeutic breaks to local families whose lives have been affected by the illness.
The total raised before the shirt is raffled already stands at over £50,000 thanks to charity collections at the Fan Zones in Belfast during their matches in France.
Cancer Fund for Children’s Corporate Fundraiser, Sorcha Chipperfield said: “We were beyond thrilled to welcome the Northern Ireland Team to Daisy Lodge and to meet some of the families we support.
“It is wonderful that Gareth McAuley is also donating his signed football shirt which we are raffling to raise even more funds. This is a fantastic opportunity for Northern Ireland football fans to win a piece of local footballing history.
“Fans, and their friends and family, can enter the raffle at a cost of just £1 per ticket. The more raffle tickets you purchase, the more the chances you have to win, and the more funds Cancer Fund for Children receive – it’s a win-win!”
Daisy Lodge was officially opened by Holywood golfer Rory McIlroy in 2014, who has supported the venture through his charitable foundation.
It can cater for eight families at a time, up to 500 families a year, and offers a place of rest and relaxation at the retreat on the foothill of the Mourne Mountains.