Organised by Nigel Toplis, managing director of Hinkley-based Recognition Express, the event is taking place at the Dovecote Stadium, in Leicestershire. Here the star studded Once Upon a Smile FC celebrity team will take on Nigel’s team of top businessmen from the franchise industry.
The celebrity team is made up of stars from Eastenders, Emmerdale, Hollyoaks and Waterloo Road, including Matt Lapinskas, Tony Discipline Danny Miller, Anthony Quinlan and Will Rush. Kick off is at 2.00pm but the celebrities will be signing autographs beforehand – so make sure you get there early!
Last year’s match was played in memory of Dave Wheatley, Shepsted Dynamo FC stalwart who died suddenly at his home, and successfully raised £7,000.
Nigel Toplis said: “The aim is to raise as much money as possible for WellChild and the celebrity team’s charity Once Upon a Smile. We did really well last year, so it would be excellent if we could beat last year’s total.”
As well as a raffle on the day there are lots of the other ways to help the teams raise money, such as sponsoring a signed match ball, become a headline sponsor on the day or advertise in the programme.
Nigel’s team aims to raise at least £5,000 for WellChild, which helps sick and seriously ill children and their families across the country through research, care and support. The soap stars will be playing to raise money for its nominated charity, Once Upon a Smile which offers respite breaks following an immediate family bereavement.
Nigel has been supporting the work of WellChild for a decade and has personally helped to raise a staggering £44,500 for the appeal. His exploits have included a gruelling bike ride in Cuba and a successful attempt to reach the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro. In March next year, he will be taking on the nine day challenge of walking the Sahara to raise a further £5,000 for WellChild.
The 53-year-old said: “I was first asked to get involved by my friend and solicitor, John Pratt, and when I looked into I realised what fantastic work the charity does. “WellChild helps seriously ill children and funds important research into illnesses which affect ethnic minorities and groups at risk. The charity also helps seriously ill children as well as their families and it is an incredibly worthwhile cause.
“I have always felt it is important to put something back into society and I have always been happy to do what I can. The climb up Kilimanjaro was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do in my life but the sense of achievement and the money we raised made it all worthwhile.”
He added: “WellChild would not be able to do all the great work it does without the public’s support. We are organising what is going to be a great day out and people can come along and enjoy themselves, and raise money for a fantastic cause at the same time.”
People can support the event simply by turning up as spectators or through a series of sponsorship opportunities, they can even pay for the privilege of playing against the celebrities. There will also be a hog roast and plenty of entertainment.