A CHARITY football match in memory of a popular Durham woman has raised more than £6,000.

The annual Mary Hayton Charity Football tournament always draws in hundreds of people from the community, Mrs Hayton was so well-known in.

And it was no different on Saturday, as crowds flocked to Sacriston Football Club to watch teams battle it out for the prized Mary Hayton Charity Shield.

Footballers as young as six took part in the event which raises funds for Cancer Research UK.

Mrs Hayton, of Sacriston, died of pancreatic cancer in June 2003, ages just 42.

Following her death, her friends and family set up a memorial fund to raise money for Cancer Research UK.

Eileen Jones, her sister and the event organiser, said: “Mary worked as a manager at the University Hospital of North Durham and was much-loved in the communities of Langley Park and Sacriston.”

The first of five matches kicked off at 9.30am with the concluding match at 1.30pm seeing Sacriston WMC and Langley Park WMC playing for the Mary Hayton Charity Shield.

Spectators enjoyed hot dogs and burgers as they watched the fierce match which ultimately saw Sacriston WMC take the shield, winning the game 3-0.

A total of five matches took place on the day and included games for youngsters right up to the over 35s.

The good spirit carried on late into the night with an evening of entertainment at Sacriston Working Men’s Club, provided by North-East group Uptown.

Mrs Jones, of Langley Park, said: "We were totally amazed. We had about 200 people at the football and about 300 on the night time and raised £6,500 - that's just amazing and totally unbelievable.

"It was beautiful weather and everyone turned out. The kindness of the Langley Park and Sacriston communities continues to be fantastic.

"The atmosphere yesterday was also fantastic both day and night, the band were amazing and so energetic."

Mrs Jones said the event has now raised more than £70,000 since it was first launched 15 years ago and has gone from strength to strength.

She also praised all the volunteers who always work hard to make it a success.

"Mary was our sister and I always say she will never be forgotten," she said. "We were only going to do this charity for ten years and it's just gone on and on because all these people come out to see the football and make it a brilliant family day."

For more information search for the Mary Hayton Memorial Fund on Facebook.