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An Audience With Mo Farah raises cash for North-East children's charity
Stars of sport and entertainment gathered in London this week to help raise money for a North-East-based children's charity co-founded by Steve Cram. The Northern Echo was the only newspaper in the country invited, with sports writer Steph Clark in attendance at the Royal Garden Hotel.
IT's not every night you share a taxi queue with a Formula One world champion. That is, however, until you realise he's actually waiting for his chauffeur to pick him up and not for a cab.
Former world champion Mark Webber was just one of an impressive line-up of stars from sport and entertainment that gathered in London to help raise money for North-East-based charity, Comrades of Children Oversees (COCO), in an event hosted by our very own former world champion, Steve Cram.
The Jarrow Arrow, who co-founded COCO, was joined by double Olympic champion Mo Farah and the pair teamed up to host An Audience With Mo, who spoke candidly about his recent London Marathon disappointment as well as that Super Saturday evening during London 2012.
It was a star-studded audience in the capital with a host of Olympic champions and top level athletes, including Sir Steve Redgrave, Daley Thompson and Jonathan Edwards. Other sports stars who attended included Paula Radcliffe, Roger Black, Steve Backley, Adam Gemili, Mark Bright and Stoke City's Asmir Begovic.
They were joined on the night by Duncan Bannatyne of Dragon's Den, and comedian and actor Eddie Izzard.
I was lucky enough to be on COCO's own table and met some fantastic people, who have gone above and beyond to raise considerable amounts of money for such a great charity.
Before the evening got underway, a room full of sporting greats - and me - perused a mouth-watering selection of top sporting memorabilia.
Signed football shirts, montages of Justin Rose's US Open win, Super Saturday and a signed England cricket bat from last summer's Ashes Test series were all available in a silent auction.
Other prizes included tickets to see Lady Gaga and a signed One Direction montage, the latter which to my surprise received a bid from racing supremo Webber!
The silent auction went on throughout the night with tables fighting it out for their desired pieces via iPads, while a second bidding war, hosted by Cram, helped raise thousands for two very worthy causes.
COCO works with communities in remote regions of the developing world to alleviate the poverty that prevents children's education. It focuses on small, sustainable, community led initiatives that can make a big difference at a local level.
Since its foundation, the North-East-based charity has raised more than £2.8m and Tuesday night's event helped raise a further £55,000.
The Mo Farah Foundation was founded by Farah and his wife, Tania, and works to help save lives and support people who are still being affected by the worst drought to hit the Horn of Africa region in over 60 years.
Cram said: "I'm over the moon with the level of support that this event has secured.
"Given his packed schedule of races and training, it's great that Mo has been able to get involved, especially so soon after the London Marathon.
"We're hugely grateful to everyone who has contributed to the evening and came along to hear a fascinating insight into last Sunday's event and many of Mo's athletics triumphs, including him breaking my own 1,500m British record.
"Most importantly, we were able to highlight the great work of two charities that are close to our hearts, COCO and the Mo Farah Foundation."
To find out more about the work of COCO visit www.coco.org.uk, find the charity on Facebook or follow @COCO_Charity on Twitter. To find out more about the Mo Farah Foundation visit www.mofarahfoundation.org.uk.
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