A CHAMPAGNE reception kick-started a year-long fundraising partnership between cricket legend Sir Ian Botham and a five-star resort.

Supporters of the Beefy Charity Foundation gathered at Rockliffe Hall, in Hurworth, near Darlington, to launch the partnership, which will raise money for various charities close to Sir Ian’s heart.

The resort will host a number of fundraising events throughout the year, including a Christmas carol family day, wine tasting, golf day and afternoon tea, while staff will take on their own challenges to raise money for the foundation.

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Speaking at the launch event, Sir Ian said: “I have been fundraising for many years and it is wonderful to be able to do it on my own doorstep.

“Rockliffe is a terrific place which is very local to us – I live 15 minutes away and play golf here.

“We are really pleased it is a local partnership.

“In the foundation we have flexibility, if somebody came to us that was local and wanted help, we will try and help - if we can help, we will help.”

Since 1985 Sir Ian has thrown himself into fundraising, covering thousands of miles in his charity walks and raising more than £13m.

Following its launch last year, the foundation has donated £20,000 to each of the charities it supports - Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research, Cardiac Arrest in the Young, Battens Disease Family Association, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and Brain Tumour Research in Yorkshire.

Sir Ian's daughter Sarah, who organises his charity events, said: “Over the years the charities have become quite personal to us.

“My sister, Becky, has type 1 diabetes and my mum is a patron of Brain Tumour Research and Support.”

The partnership follows a successful two-year fundraising collaboration with the Great North Air Ambulance Service, which raised more than £10,000 for the charity.

Simon Roberts, resort general manager, said: “Each year we have one major charity we raise money for.

“Beefy’s Charity Foundation raises money for lots of different charities, so that is quite different for us. It is nice to be able to support them all.”

Chairman of Rockliffe Hall, Warwick Brindle, added: “We place a lot of importance on being involved with regional charities and our local community.

“The Beefy Foundation does so much great work for a wide range of charities and we already have a number of events in the pipeline.”

The Northern Echo is a media partner for the duration of the partnership and will feature articles on upcoming events.

For more information email sarah@solaevents.com