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Soap stars help raise hundreds of pounds at charity football match

May 17, 2023

Stars from the hit Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks laced up their boots for a charity football match in Runcorn, Cheshire, last week, in aid of Ronald McDonald House Charities UK.

The star-studded game took place at Runcorn Linnets FC’s APEC Taxis Stadium on Wednesday 10 May. It was organised by dad-of-two Alek Dargie, co-founder of Heart Warriors FC. Alek’s four-year-old son Raffi has been treated for a serious heart condition at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool. During Raffi’s extended hospital stays, Alek and his family were accommodated, free-of-charge, at Ronald McDonald House Alder Hey.

Alek said: “Staying at the House has saved us so much in hotel and travel costs but more than that, it allowed us to stay close to Raffi. It also meant our older son Blaine could come and stay at weekends, so we could be together as a family.

I was keen to give something back and help drive awareness, so decided to form a non-profit football team of players from across Cheshire to raise funds for the Alder Hey House.”

Since the previously independently run House joined the wider Ronald McDonald House Charities UK family last year, the team is now fundraising for our independent Charity, which operates 14 Houses across England, Wales, and Scotland, providing free ‘home away from home’ accommodation.

Alek said: “Our first game was in May 2019 when we played Footprints FC and raised £5,000. Since then, we’ve played around 45 games, and we also climbed Helvellyn Mountain in the Lake District, which raised £2,500.

“In 2021, we were due to play against a team of Emmerdale actors, but it was cancelled due to lockdown, and ITV donated £2,500 to us instead. The game against Hollyoaks cast members has also been rescheduled several times, due to Covid, so we’re delighted it’s finally happening this month.”

The Hollyoaks team included newcomer Oscar Curtis, who plays the character of Lucas Hay, Jacob Roberts, who stars as Damon Kinsella, Charlie Behan who plays troubled teen Charlie Dean and Owen Warner also known as Romeo Nightingale and probably best known for finishing second in last year’s I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!

The game ended in a well fought 3-3 draw with Heart Warriors FC winning on penalties. More importantly, it raised nearly £1,000 for the Charity through tickets sales, donations, and a raffle, with prizes including a signed Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain Liverpool FC shirt and an Everton FC flag, signed by manager Sean Dyche.

Philippa Bradbury, Community Fundraiser for Ronald McDonald House Charities UK said: “We were so pleased to be able to lessen some of the emotional and financial burden of having a sick child in hospital for Alek and his family. Little Raffi is a real warrior and the funds raised by Alek and Heart Warriors FC in support of him is testament to that. We’re grateful to Alek and his fellow footballers, as well as the Hollyoaks cast members, for giving up their time to get behind our vital cause.”

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