FORMER footballer Scott Bell has raised more than £20,000 for research into the disease that ended his playing career.
The 33-year-old, of Cramlington, retired from football in 2009 after feeling increasingly sore and tired after games, and he was diagnosed last May with motor neurone disease.
Since his diagnosis, the former Blyth Spartans and Bedlington Terriers striker has raised more than £50,000 for the charity he set up, the Scott Bell Fund.
Half of the money raised will be spent on equipment he will need, with the rest going to the Motor Neurone Disease Association to help its efforts to find a cure for the disease.
On Monday, Scott handed over a cheque for more than £20,500 to the charity.
The £50,000 he has raised so far includes donations of £5,000 from staff at the Orange call centre at Silverlink Retail Park in North Tyneside and £10,000 from his colleagues at the publishing company Pearson.
Concerts by former Fame Academy star Gary Phelan and Thin Lizzy tribute act Black Rose raised a further £3,500, and a competition at Alnwick Golf Club added £4,000.
A dozen runners completed last year’s Great North Run for his fund, and Scott also took part in a sky-dive.
Scott said: “The sky-dive was awesome – really exciting.
“It’s the biggest adrenaline rush I’ve had since playing football.”
Further funds look set to be added over the next few days with a charity football match taking place at Blyth’s Croft Park, Blyth, on Saturday, May 5, between a Blyth Spartans XI made up of Scott’s former team-mates and guests and Bedlington Terriers.
The match kicks off at 2pm, but gates open at noon for a children’s fair and other activities. Tickets cost £2 for adults and £1 for children.
A group of 32 cyclists raising money for the fund will also be welcomed before the game, after setting off from Dublin last Saturday and cycling to various football grounds – including those of Celtic, Rangers, Newcastle United and Sunderland – before a scheduled arrival at Croft Park just before kick-off.
An auction of sporting memorabilia will end after the match.
Among the 52 lots for sale are several autographed football shirts, including a Holland top from the 1974 World Cup final signed by Johan Cruyff and a Sheffield Wednesday shirt signed by the Arctic Monkeys.
Signed Real Madrid, Barcelona, Ireland, Newcastle United, Sunderland and Manchester United shirts are also up for grabs.
Scott has also been boosted by the news that Newcastle drug company Sanofi has chosen his fund as its charity of the year.
Scott added: “My condition is pretty much the same as it was back in June. I’m just coping with it the best I can.
“We’re always looking for people to help us and raise the profile of the fund and motor neurone disease.
“We want the money to go towards clinical trials and looking for a cure.
“My hope is they stumble upon something that works rather than finding out what causes this disease.”
Mandy Metcalfe, regional fundraiser for the association, said: “We’re supporting Scott and thank him for his support.
“It’s quite inspiring to meet someone so optimistic. It encourages the same in other people.
“Motor neurone disease is a relatively rare disease, but it can affect young people like Scott, so we need to raise awareness of it.
“We’re the only charity in the UK researching the causes of the disease and trying to find a cure.”
For more information about the fund or to view items up for auction, visit www.scottbellfund.com