GREAT North Run founder Brendan Foster promotes what organisers hope will be another sporting success for the region tonight.

The Olympian will launch the County Durham Foundation's new Sports Fund.

Set up to back community-based sports clubs and activities, the fund will make grants available to help groups with running costs.

The foundation hopes to begin handing out cash by the end of next year, but with a longer-term aim of raising a £500,000 endowment fund by 2003 to enable grass roots sport to develop.

Grants of up to £2,000 from the new fund will help small clubs buy new sporting equipment or coaching expertise, or provide limited travel support to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to attend training sessions and competitions.

Foundation chairman Sir Paul Nicholson said: "We want to support community sports initiatives and give people the opportunity to take part."

Mr Foster, will launch the fund at tonight's annual meeting of the foundation, at Durham County Cricket Club's Chester-le-Street headquarters.