FERRYHILL Celtic may have lifted the silverware, but the real winner of a charity football competition was an organisation which provides support to families with a child suffering life-threatening illness.

Officials running the Darlington Charity Cup were so moved by the plight of five-year-old Nicole Agar, who has undergone treatment for a series of inoperable brain tumours since she was just four months old, they decided cash from this year's event should go to the Rainbow Trust.

Charity cup organisers Brian Scaife and Roger Bradley learned of the Ferryhill youngster's ordeal, and the help her family received from the charity, after supporters took part in a 10-mile sponsored walk from Staindrop to Bishop Auckland to raise money for the trust last month.

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Presenting a cheque for £500, Mr Scaife said: “We are always on the look-out for a really good cause and this fits in with what we set out to do with the competition.”

Jackie Howard, a cousin of Nicole's grandmother, who organised the sponsored walk, and the Rainbow Trust's North-East assistant fundraising manager, Emily Casson, accepted the cash.

Mrs Howard said the money would be added to the £1,647 raised by the walk.

“Since doing the walk, the response has been brilliant, with people asking what we are doing next.”

Ms Casson added: “Not only have those who took part in the walk raised funds, they have raised awareness of the Rainbow Trust as well.

“Things like this donation from the Darlington Charity Cup would not have happened without Jackie and the others raising awareness of the support we give to families like Nicole's.”

The Darlington Charity Cup dates back to 1907 and was held annually until 2004. Mr Scaife and Mr Bradley relaunched the competition in 2010.

“In our first season, we bought a TV for a six-year-old girl who was going through chemo treatment and whose television had broken down.” said Mr Scaife.

“We presented it before the final and she was thrilled. It gave us the incentive to do this every year.

“Last year, we donated a cheque for £250 to an eight-year-old from Ferryhill who has a terminal illness called Juvenile Batten Disease.”

Mrs Howard is also continuing fundraising events for the Rainbow Trust.

Regular coffee mornings are held at Bishop Auckland Cricket Club – the latest of which is on Wednesday, May 15, at 10.30am – and a family fun day, from noon to 4pm, will take place at the club on Saturday, May 25.

Ferryhill Celtic defeated Middlestone Moor Masons Arms 3-1 after extra time to lift the Darlington Charity Cup.