A charity darts event headlined by stars Colin Lloyd and Wayne Mardle has raised more than £8,000 in memory of a little boy who died of a rare heart condition.
Around 280 people turned out at the standing room-only event at the Poplar Club, sponsored by O2 in aid of the British Heart Foundation.
It was organised by Ian and Becky Dickinson, to mark what would have been son Ben’s 16th birthday. Ben, three, died in 2003 of myocarditis, a virus which spread to his heart.
Ian, of Manchester Road, Accrington, said: “Everyone had a great time. The darts players were superb, really entertaining.
“It was an emotional night. I’d much rather have gone to a restaurant with Ben to celebrate his 16th birthday like any other family but this was a good second best.
“I’m very grateful for everyone’s support. It was humbling to see so many people in a room in memory of our son.”
Event-goers enjoyed watching the colourful player and commentator Mardle and former world number one Lloyd take on the guests.
There was also entertainment from an MC, walk-on girls, charity auctions and raffles.
Ian said: “Two audience members won their games. Whether Colin and Wayne allowed them to or not though I don’t know but everyone was in good spirits.”
Signed shirts were auctioned off at £300 each and there was the chance to bid for a signed dartboard. Programme booklets also featured a photo of Ben, something bittersweet for dad Ian.
He said: “I see my son’s photo every day as it’s on my desk at work but it’s much harder to see it in the public domain.”
He added that the aim of the night was also to raise awareness of Ben’s heart condition.
He said: “It’s a condition difficult to detect as it’s linked to a virus that usually presents itself as the common cold, but in Ben’s case, it got to his heart. Funds like this are the charity’s lifeblood.
“We hoped to raise £6,000 but it should be £8,500 after I’ve received all the funds pledged.
“It was a truly amazing night and a phenomenal total, thanks to the generosity of O2 Accrington, the other sponsors and donators and the guests.”
The event is the latest in a series of fundraising efforts by Ian’s family that have previously raised around £8,000 for the charity since Ben’s death.