Star-studded football match brings Pixie Lott, Judy Murray, The Saturdays singer, a former Chelsea FC star and even more celebs to Crayford
PUBLISHED: 12:10 04 April 2017 | UPDATED: 12:10 04 April 2017
The match was raising money for Alzheimer's Research
Bromley born singer Pixie Lott took on her uncle in a celebrity football match for charity on Sunday.
The star-studded event in Crayford saw ex semi-professionals and celebrities play out an exciting 8-8 draw, with the former Petts Wood and Bickley singer netting twice as she played against her uncle and Erith Town FC joint manager, Ricky Bennett.
Hundreds of people turned out to the event at the VCD Athletic stadium, which was raising money for Alzheimer’s Research UK.
Joining Miss Lott in the celebrity line-up was her model fiancé Oliver Cheshire, The Saturdays singer Frankie Bridge who played alongside her husband and ex-professional footballer Wayne Bridge.
Also taking to the pitch were tennis coach Judy Murray, comedian and presenter Matt Richardson, Downton Abbey’s Matt Barber, TV and YouTube star Luke Franks, and musician Hobbie Stuart.
On the other side, Mr Bennett was joined by teammates from Concept Old Boys, a veterans’ team the former Dartford footballer plays for on Sundays.
The 47-year-old is running this year’s London Marathon for Alzheimer’s Research, in memory of his mum, and Pixie’s nan, Margaret ‘Peggy’ Bennet from Sidcup.
Pixie, 26, was keen to help out, and rounded up a group of her celebrity friends for the match, to also raise money in honour of her nan on her mum’s side, Amelia Martin, who died with Alzheimer’s disease at 84 in 2012.
The event raised over £3,700 for vital dementia research.
The impressive total was helped by a raffle, with prizes including signed Leicester, Tottenham and England shirts by Match Of The Day presenter Gary Lineker, a signed t-shirt from world number one tennis players Andy and Jamie Murray, and an evening for 15 at Mahiki Club in London’s Mayfair.
The Mama Do and Cry Me Out singer said: “It’s been amazing, we’ve had so much fun. I haven’t played football since primary school and it’s been so good, everyone’s got stuck in, all my family, all my friends. It’s good to get everyone outside for a great cause.
“This is my first charity football match and it’s been perfect. It’s great to know it’s raised so much money for a charity that’s close to my heart.
“It’s always hard to fit things in the schedule. But this was the date my Uncle Rick gave us so I said ‘yes I’ll get it in the diary’. We’ve seen dementia first-hand and it’s so sad. It really affects a person and changes them and it’s devastating.
“I’ve seen it on both sides of the family and how it affects everyone. All the work Alzheimer’s Research UK does is so important and I’m so happy with the turnout today.
“I’ve always been a big supporter of Alzheimer’s Research UK and I’m so pleased with how much has been raised.”
Wayne and Frankie Bridge, whose two children watched from the sidelines, spoke about their personal experience of dementia.
Frankie said: “I was doing a version of football, my own version because I haven’t got a clue what I’m doing. I look like such a girl but Pixie did well for us. I don’t think they’ll let me back on after half time.
“As well as coming along to support Pixie, we came because Alzheimer’s Research UK funds dementia research.
“It’s something that quite a few of my grandparents have had so I’ve been around it quite a few times. It can be so sad for everyone and it’s so common.
“The more awareness that can be raised and the more people donate - hopefully we’ll get to the bottom of it.”
Ricky, who used to play as a semi-professional footballer before becoming a manager, said: “It’s been absolutely amazing, I’m so grateful to everyone for giving up their time. We’ve all turned up for the right reasons and we’ve raised a really good amount of money. I’m looking forward to the marathon, I’ve been applying for the last five years and never got a place, but I’ve been there to support others and it’s always a fantastic day. So to finally get a place for such a great cause is wonderful. My mum would be so proud to have seen us all out today.
“She worked so hard for all us with lots of different jobs to pay the bills, from cleaning jobs, to working as a secretary and a cafeteria manager.
“She was so proud of us. She loved football and has shaped my love of the sport. Sadly, by the time Pixie was holding concerts, she was too far gone to go to one.
“That’s why we held this match, in honour of my mum who worked so hard for us all. I hope through dementia research there will come a time when no other families are robbed of their loved ones by dementia, like we have been.”
Before Sunday’s match, Ricky had already raised £1,590 in fundraising of his £3,000 target, ahead of the marathon on April 23.
The celebrity players have all signed and donated their match-worn shirts to boost funds further. An online auction will start later this week at www.ebay.co.uk/usr/alzheimersresearchuk.
To donate to Ricky’s fundraising page, go to www.justgiving.com/ricky-bennett3.