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Monday, 24 November 2014

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'Beefy' Botham's colourful approach to golf to help raise cash to fight leukaemia

Howzat for a pair of trousers? Cricket legend Ian ‘Beefy’ Botham swapped his bat for a club when he teed off at Penrith golf club.

The former England captain, in dazzling flower-patterned trousers, swung into action after he was invited by captain Phil Park who was fundraising in aid of the Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research Charity.

Phil’s daughter-in-law Alison Park was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia a year ago.

He wanted to raise the cash to repay the “brilliant medical care”, she has received, and decided to invite Sir Ian, who was knighted for his tireless charity work.

Speaking just before he teed off, Sir Ian said he was pleased to add his support and return to the course. “I’ve played here many times and it’s nice to be back.”

He added that he had the idea to organise his first famous fundraising charity walk during a holiday in Ullswater.

Phil said he was pleased that the former England cricketer had accepted his invitation.

“To have Sir Ian Botham involved with the charity golf day after the fantastic work he has done in aid of leukaemia is a proud day for Penrith golf club and my family,” he said.

He said he had decided to write to the Sky pundit because of what he had done nationally for leukaemia. “He responded very quickly to say that he would but we had to fit in with his TV commitments,” he added.

Alison, who lives in Cockermouth with husband Nigel and two children Alex and Imogen, was first diagnosed in April 2013 and has been treated by staff from the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle since then.

Phil said it had come “completely out of the blue”. “Regrettably it was a very aggressive form of leukaemia,” he said.

“She was rushed into the Freeman and she is still in their care. She’s making quite good progress at the moment and long may that continue.”

One of the youngest guests at yesterday’s event was 12-year-old Tom Sharkey, from Penrith, who was diagnosed with the disease back in 2007 but is now in remission.

He admitted that when he was diagnosed he did not know what was happening.

“My dad told me there were monsters in my blood and we had to get them out,” he added.

“That helped a lot because I was just totally oblivious to it all. I would say it was helpful and it was a few years after I got diagnosed I just started to feel like a normal boy again.”

His dad, 42-year-old Steven, said that Tom was now in “full clinical remission” and the chances of the disease making a return were 0.01 per cent and added: “It’s very slim.”

He said that he found it rewarding that the local community, as well as the golf club and its captain, were trying to raise money to help with research into the disease.

Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research is Phil’s nominated charity at the golf club for 2014 and the charity day was sponsored by Lloyd Carlisle BMW.

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