A FORMER West Indies international cricketer and North-East favourite is preparing for an action-packed year of fundraising after being awarded a benefit season.

Durham County cricketer Gareth Breese hopes to raise thousands of pounds for Macmillan Cancer Support and the Professional Cricketers' Association Benevolent Fund by staging a variety of charity events over the next 12 months.

Dating back to the 19th century, a benefit season is a way of financially rewarding long serving players who were traditionally paid low wages and could not play as much after turning 40.

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These days, many cricketers choose to donate the money to charity.

Breese, 38, was jointly awarded the benefit season with his team-mate, Gordon Muchall, who has selected the North-East Autism Society as his chosen charity.

During a visit to the Macmillan Cancer Support Information Centre at Bishop Auckland Hospital today (Wednesday, January 29), Breese said the charity was close to his heart.

“Unfortunately cancer has come knocking very close to home and a few family members have been diagnosed in the last year,” he said. “One passed away just before Christmas.

“No-one should have to face cancer alone and the support Macmillan gives to families is so important.”

Michelle Muir, Macmillan fundraising manager for County Durham, said the money would fund a nurse educator to help  North-East hospital, community and care home staff provide better palliative and end-of-life care to people with cancer and their loved ones.

For more information about cancer, contact Macmillan on 08088080000 or visit macmillan.org.uk

Further details about the benefit season and future fundraising events will be released soon.

To find out more contact info@gforce14.co.uk