Thursday, June 01, 2006

Stars turn out for Chris

Source: Salford Advertiser.
Thursday, June 1.
By Tony Howard

AN EX-ENGLAND international, a former Manchester United stalwart and several soap stars joined the people of Salford to raise ?7,000 for local lad Chris McGuirk. Former England midfielder Peter Reid, ex-Manchester United winger Ben Thornley and a host of Coronation Street actors formed an 'All Star' team for a charity match against fans' club FC United of Manchester at De La Salle's Lancaster Road fields on bank holiday Monday, May 29. Money from the 1,500-plus crowd means fundraisers now have ?160,000 towards their target of ?200,000 to build scrum half Chris a house suited to his disability needs after he broke his neck playing rugby for De La Salle last year.

Nearly 2,000 people attended both events and, with two charity dates still on the calender, Chris' friends-turned fundraisers, led by John Camilleri, are confident he will return to Salford from Southport spinal injuries unit by the end of the year. The 'All Star' team included Coronation Street actors Andy Whyment (Kirk), Alan Halsall (Tyrone), Richard Fleeshman (Craig Harris), Sam Robertson (Adam Baldwin), DJ Mike Sweeney and Rhodri Giggs, brother of United winger Ryan. There was also a fun fair and bouncy castle for kids and musical entertainment from Salford band Hanky Park.

Chris, 21, said: "I can't say how grateful I am to everyone who's got behind me. We had the Black and White Ball on Saturday and my dad and a few of the lads did the dance they've been practising and everyone had a top time. "Then to see the crowd turn out for the match was brilliant - it just gets better. I'd like to thank FC United as well all my friends, family and the people of this area who have supported me. It's a cliche but I am taking every day as it comes. My arms are getting better and I'm improving all the time. The support really spurs me on."

Peter Reid has been involved with the Chris McGuirk Appeal from the start. He said: "I've been to Southport to see Chris and from the minute I met him I could see he's a game boy. He's a great example, because we all moan about things but he's got on with it and shown an amazing attitude." Former Manchester United winger and now Salford City midfielder Ben Thornley added: "All of us who play sport know how serious the situation is and we want to help as best we can.

"The people of Salford have come together and it shows what a fantastic place this is. I'm a Salford lad and I'm proud when you see what the people here can achieve."

Another proud Salfordian, Mike Sweeney, said: "This has been a great example of the community pulling together. It's a genuine working class movement where people are helping one of their own." FC United triumphed 11-7 in the charity game with fans bidding for the chance to take on Reidy and his men in the second half. The remaining events are a golf day at Swinton Park Golf Club on Wednesday, June 28 and a rugby tournament on the weekend of August 26 and 27, with the final at the Willows.

For information contact John Camilleri on: 07908 667 806.