A WINTER ball in aid of the Help For Heroes charity raised tens of thousands of pounds at the weekend.

The event, at Tennants in Leyburn, attracted an audience of around 400 people, including Middlesbrough Football Club chairman Steve Gibson and club manager Aitor Karanka.

A grand auction, conducted by Rodney Tennant, raised £72,500, and included a work of art commissioned by The Northern Echo and produced by world-famous artist Mackenzie Thorpe.

"Remembrance" was produced by the artist for the front cover of the paper's Remembrance Sunday edition and the original was sold to an anonymous bidder for £13,000 in the auction.

The money will go towards the Echo's £100,000 for 100 Years" campaign, marking the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War by raising money for the Help For Heroes Phoenix House recovery centre in Catterick Garrison.

Middlesbrough-born Mackenzie, who was a guest of The Northern Echo, at the ball said: "It was an honour to be asked to be involved and I'm very happy that it raised valuable funds for such a fantastic charity."

The artist's Arthaus Gallery in Richmond is also selling 100 framed limited edition prints in aid of Help For Heroes for £295.

The Northern Echo's editor Peter Barron, who was master of ceremonies at the event, said: "It was an unforgettable occasion and everyone at The Northern Echo is thrilled that 'Remembrance' raised such a lot of money."

The final figure raised at the event is still being calculated because there was also a silent auction and other fund-raising activities.

The founders of Help For Heroes, Bryn and Emma Parry, were guests of honour.

Mr Parry told the guests: "We must never forget or fail those who return from conflicts in need of our support."