Belfast Telegraph

North West lights Spark for children’s charity

By Jim Gracey

Children's charity Action Medical Research has been adopted as the official charity partner of this year's International North West 200 road race extravaganza.

The leading UK-wide medical research charity, dedicated to helping babies and children, is closely linked to high profile local celebrity sports fund-raiser Sparks NI which regularly aids Action Medical Research. The North West connection will see projects benefit locally.

Sparks committee member, Moto GP and local bike star Jeremy McWilliams helped launch the new North West 200 partnership alongside NW200 Technical Director Mervyn Whyte, Action Medical Research community fundraising manager Sarah Matzen and the charity’s official mascot, Paddington Bear.

Outlining events planned for NW200 Race Week 2012, Sarah Matzen said: “We plan to hold a variety of fundraising activities kicking off on Sunday, May 13 with a sponsored Walk, Run, Cycle around the 8.9 mile course. Paddington Bear will also be putting his best paw forward during May by visiting schools and encouraging children to take part in our special charity art and creative writing competition. Further events will be announced in the run up to Race Week. It’s wonderful for Action Medical Research to link up with one of Ireland’s top outdoor sporting events, especially as 2012 marks the charity’s 60th anniversary year.”

Funds raised during Race Week will be used to support three key research projects funded by Action Medical Research in Northern Ireland which are based at Queen’s University and the Royal Victoria Hospital. The charity is currently supporting the development of ultrasound and computing techniques to help prevent stillbirth as well as two projects investigating novel treatments for retinopathy of prematurity, a disease that can cause childhood blindness.

Mervyn Whyte commented: “Following a strong application and interview process we’re delighted to bring on board Action Medical Research as our official 2012 charity partner. Similar to the NW200, the charity has been operating for a long time and has supported incredible medical breakthroughs which have made a huge difference to the lives of sick and disabled children. Many of our NW200 competitors have also supported Action Medical Research through Sparks NI and we felt the partnership was an important one particularly as 2012 as the charity celebrates its 60th anniversary.”

If you would like to register for the Walk, Run, Cycle or would like Paddington to visit your school, email smatzen@action.org.uk for more information. Charity details can be found at www.action.org.uk

Race Week takes place from May 12-19 with Race Day on Saturday, May 19. Visit www.northwest200.org for up to date event information.

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