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Final whistle for charity match

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A major fundraising event for Newark’s Beaumond House Community Hospice will be held for the last time this year.

The annual football match at Collingham Football Club is organised by Mrs Val Nicholson (62) of Breamer Road, Collingham.

The event is held in the memory of her husband, Mr Ian Nicholson, who died at the hospice in 1996 aged 49.

Mr Nicholson, who had a brain tumour, was a former Collingham FC player and was still involved with the club.

Among the highlights in the match’s ten-year history was the 2004 match at which the former England star, Paul Gascoigne, was a surprise spectator.

Gascoigne, a player-coach at Boston United at the time, donated a signed football shirt that was framed and hung in the clubhouse.

Mrs Nicholson, the vice-chairman of Collingham FC, said the two other main organisers were the club chairman, Mr Gerry Williams, and committee member Mr Pat Douglas.

She said they received support from other volunteers but the number of people willing to be involved was dwinding.

Mrs Nicholson said the event, which started as a five-a-side tournament, was becoming more tiring to organise.

Since 2002 stars and behind-the-scenes staff from the ITV soap, Emmerdale, have taken part in a match against a Collingham FC team.

The match was called off in 2005 when the Emmerdale team was not available.

More than £20,000 has been raised for the hospice from the nine previous Ian Nicholson Memorial Trophy events.

The tenth and final match is a week on Sunday.

“As a family we wanted to give something back to the hospice,” said Mrs Nicholson. “Until you need these places you don’t realise how much work they do.

“They are special people with such dedication and they need such a lot of funding.

“As a family we bought a trophy and thought we were going to do this properly.

“We did not think long-term, we just did an event.

“It was nerve-racking. We did not know what to expect.”

Mrs Nicholson praised the commitment of the soap stars who took part.

“I thought originally it was going to be a one-off but they are such great lads they come every year free of charge.

“It is just a fun game. That is what it is all about,” said Mrs Nicholson.

“The Emmerdale lads have become like friends.”

Mrs Nicholson said she particularly wanted to thank Glenn Lamont, who played Richie Carter.

She said he brought a gift each year — one of which was a signed script from the soap’s 2006 Christmas special.

Former professional footballers have also taken part in the match, including Mrs Nicholson’s son, Shane (38) who signed for Lincoln City from Collingham at the age of 16.

Shane Nicholson will be among those playing this year, along with the former Lincoln City manager, Mr John Schofield.

The soap stars taking part have not yet been confirmed.

Kick-off is at 1.30pm. There will be music at the end of the match, including the Abba tribute act, Angel Eyes, stalls and a barbecue.

Gates open at 12.30pm and admission is £3 for adults (16 and over) and £1 for OAPs and children.

Although it is the last charity match, Mrs Nicholson said the football club planned to hold other events to raise money for the hospice.

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