Fun day and concert raise almost £4k in memory of Michael

ALMOST £4,000 has now been collected following a fundraising event held in Blyth in memory of soldier Michael Sweeney and money is still coming in.

Well-wishers turned out in force to honour the teenage guardsman, killed in Afghanistan just over a year ago, and to raise cash for the Army Benevolent Fund (ABF).

So far, more than £3,800 has been collected from a fair held in Blyth’s market place and an all-day concert at the town’s Blyth and Tyne pub the weekend before last.

Hours of fun were had in the market place as pipers and drummers played all day and visitors tried out paintballing and a climbing wall.

Youngsters also had the chance to get their faces painted and to see military vehicles close up.

A cake stand and tombola sold out by 1.30pm, and even a light drizzle in the morning failed to dampen spirits.

Michael’s mum Kim, 40, said: “I am once again overwhelmed by the response from the public, showing their support to help soldiers and their families and keeping alive the memory of Michael.

“The event went well, and we have raised over £3,800, with more still to come in from the whole day’s events, which is a fantastic response.”

Kim’s mum Frances Middlemiss, sister-in-law Ami Sweeney and friend Angie Thompson worked hard to bake almost all the goodies sold at the cake stall on the day, and Kim was also helped by other family and friends.

The concert at the Blyth and Tyne, organised by Rob Jacobs and the Regent Street pub’s management, started in the afternoon and went on until late.

It included an auction which raised more than £450, and brave souls also raised hundreds of pounds by getting various parts of their bodies waxed and their heads shaved.

Kim said: “The Blyth and Tyne had a fantastic turnout, and the bands were fantastic and the support brilliant.

“The tributes to Michael poured in over the weekend, and his grave was covered in flowers.”

The fundraising in Michael’s memory is still going on, and Blyth School Community College has added more than £100 by selling cakes and wristbands, with Cramlington’s Gala Bingo hall chipping in with another £400.

The next event is a sponsored bungee jump from the Tyne Bridge on Sunday, May 1, organised by Eric Ingram from the ABF but also raising money for other charities. For details, e-mail ericexcav@msn.com

On Saturday, May 21, a charity football match will be held at Blyth Spartans’ Croft Park ground between a team from the Coldstream Guards and a side made up of locals while the regiment’s drummers play in the background.

A second match that day will be played in memory of John Amer, a fellow Coldstream Guard, from Sunderland, also killed in Afghanistan, the year before Michael.

Michael, 19, of Lindsay Avenue in Blyth, was killed by an improvised explosive device in Helmand Province in April last year.

His family raised £12,000 for charity in his memory last year and hope to top that total this year.