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Sir Alex Ferguson set to join Manchester charity bash in aid of children with life-threatening illnesses

By Dominic Claeys-Jackson

Sir Alex Ferguson and Mike Summerbee are among the stars attending a charity bash this month to raise money for children with life-threatening health conditions.

Jacob’s Moonlight Ball, at Manchester’s Hilton Deansgate, is in aid of Warrington’s JUMP charity, and will help raise funds to recruit and train a small workforce.

JUMP provides children experiencing life-limiting health conditions with professional photographic and video memory packages, but is currently sustained by volunteers.

Kate McCarthy, JUMP patron, told of her excitement of the evening, which is sponsored by the Professional Footballers Association (PFA).

She said: “Being a relatively small charity we are really looking forward to highlighting the work we do and the comfort we bring to the children and families at such difficult and challenging times to a wider audience. 

“It promises to be a very special evening which we hope to share with a great number of people from in and around Manchester.”

The ball will involve a sparkling drinks reception, three course meal and musical entertainment from Legally Blonde star Carly Stenson and Manchester singer Alexander Stewart.

Ian Royce, warm-up artiste for audiences on The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent will compeer the event – and further celebrity names are expected to attend.

Many football-related prizes are up for auction; including PFA Awards tickets, signed Lionel Messi and David Beckham jerseys, and a corporate box for eight at Man City.

And the non-football fan can enjoy items such as a helicopter flight with lunch and a meal for eight cooked in the winner’s home by Hilton Head Chef David Gale.

JUMP was inspired by the tragic death of Jacob Hawthorn, who died aged three after suffering from Congenital Muscular Dystrophy.

Following his passing, Jacob’s family found huge comfort in the memories they had created through photography and video; and as such, JUMP was founded in 2004.

Chairperson Christine Bentham, Jacob’s grandmother, told MM: “Having an event such as Jacob’s Moonlight Ball organised to raise funds to support our work is wonderful.

“All charities will know just what hard work goes into securing the money and resources to sustain and grow services and we have been extremely fortunate to receive unconditional support from Kate McCarthy and her team at McCarthy Retail Recruitment. 

“We are very excited about the event and hope that it will get the support it deserves.”

PFA Chief Executive Gordon Taylor OBE will also be in attendance, and he says that the PFA are proud to support the charity.

“The work they do for children with life-threatening conditions is wonderful,” he said.

“The memory package is an amazing gift and clearly makes a difference to the children and families they work with.”

Seven-year-old Beth Copeland, from Crewe, is one child whose life has been hugely affected by JUMP.

Born with spina bifida, Beth has a split in her spine throughout her entire lumbar region which has consigned her to life in a wheelchair.

Forced to undergo critical surgery four times in the first 6½ weeks of her life, her spine was closed and hydrocephalus (“water in the brain”) controlled by inserting a head shunt.

Mother Sam, 43, told MM of how much JUMP helped her family, through professionally shooting a video of Beth as bridesmaid at sister Laura’s wedding.

“It made a beautiful, beautiful day,” she said. “The footage on the DVD is of her getting out of the car with her cousins, meeting Laura, giving Laura a kiss, all the bridesmaids together.

“It is absolutely amazing. It’s all in colour and to Girls Aloud ‘Jump’, so it’s really actiony, it’s really fun.

“They filmed Elizabeth coming down the aisle with her sister, and then the reaction of Elizabeth and us to Laura’s wedding.

“It’s absolutely beautiful, it really is.”

Beth has gone on to enjoy mainstream nursery and primary school education, but Mrs Copeland emphasised the personal importance of such material given her daughter’s life-threatening condition.

She said: “Although Elizabeth is hardy and she’s well at the moment, with spina bifida and hydrocephalus it’s a bit like living with a timebomb.

“Should her shunt fail or get infected we have four hours to get her to the theatre, before brain damage or even death can happen.

“So, to us, to have such special memories is a big, big part of our lives really. We’ve been very fortunate that should anything happen we’ve got the most amazing memories of her.”

The ball is on October 25 at Hilton Manchester Deansgate.

For further information on the Bronze, Silver and Gold packages available, contact Leanne on 01925 846 400, or e-mail [email protected]  Tickets are available for £100.

For up-to-date information about auction prizes and entertainment visit www.moonlight-ball.co.uk

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