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Published 1st Jun 2011

Gary Parkinson's wife Deborah and son Luke receive a cheque for £35,145 from Ramsden's Kevin Brown (top left) and Gary's former

Organisers of the end-of-season Gary Parkinson Benefit Match have presented a cheque for more than £35,000 to the former Boro star's wife Deborah and son Luke.

The game, which attracted a crowd of 7,391 to the Riverside Stadium, was organised by Middlesbrough Former Players Association and Boro fan Carl O'Hara in conjunction with Middlesbrough FC and club sponsors Ramsdens.

The fast-growing, 21st century pawnbroker gave up its once-a-season chance to use the stadium and, instead, donated it to the organisers of the benefit match to enable the game to take place.

The company also boosted the fund by making a donation for every celebrity signing made by their team, ultimately donating £2,000 to the cause.

Ramsdens' Finance Director Kevin Brown joined Parky's former Boro team-mate Lee Turnbull and fan Carl to present a giant-sized cheque for £35,145 to Deborah and Luke.

The funds will be added to those raised from other fundraising events for the Gary Parkinson Trust Fund.

A Boro All Stars XI beat Ramsdens Celebrity XI 4-1 in the game, with Neil Maddison, Dean Windass and Curtis Fleming on target for the former players, whose line-up also included Bernie Slaven, Colin Cooper, Steve Vickers, Stephen Pears and Terry Cochrane.

Celebrities taking part included Billingham-born Paul Smith, lead singer of indie band Maximo Park, Waterloo Road actors Jack McMullen and Seth Elkins, political communications chief Alistair Campbell, speedway star Gary Havelock and Boro commentator Alastair Brownlee.

Gary's son, Luke, wore his dad's No 2 shirt, while Bruce Rioch, the manager who gave Parkinson his debut, was in charge of the Boro team that took on a Ramsdens XI managed by Tony Mowbray.

After receiving the cheque, Deborah Parkinson said: "The feeling of warmth and love towards Gary from the people who were at the match was overwhelming. It was a day that made us feel very proud.

"I was expecting perhaps a couple of thousand to attend the match but to get more than 7,300 was truly amazing. We had coaches of supporters from Blackpool and from Bolton, where we live, and it was humbling to see so many people giving Gary their support.

"It was a day when we saw everything that is good about football and we are truly grateful to all those who made this match possible, including Ramsdens for their sponsorship and Middlesbrough FC for hosting such a fantastic day.

"I am honoured to receive the cheque and for everything everyone has done for us on behalf of Gary."

Ramsdens' Kevin Brown said they were thrilled that the event had raised such a magnificent sum.

"We welcomed the opportunity to be involved with the match and to help Gary where we could, on behalf of all our staff and customers on Teesside who wish him well."

Former Boro captain Gordon Jones, now treasurer for the Former Players Association, added: "We were absolutely delighted with the superb response from all concerned in supporting the game.

"Making the game happen was a concerted effort between the Former Players Association, the football club and its staff, Ramsdens and Carl O'Hara. We hope the money will be a huge benefit to Gary and his family in the incredibly difficult time they face."

Since suffering a stroke last year, Parkinson has been left with a condition called Locked-in Syndrome, which means he can only communicate through blinking his eyes.

The condition leaves the sufferer in a state where he is aware and awake but cannot move, speak or swallow, due to paralysis of the muscles.

A charity dinner, organised by Bernie Slaven, also helped raise many thousands of pounds for Parkinson, while staff and fans of the stricken star's other former clubs, Burnley, Preston, Blackpool and Bolton have also held successful fundraisers.

Useful links

Gary Parkinson official website

Photo credit: Gary Parkinson's wife Deborah and son Luke receive a cheque for £35,145 from Ramsden's Kevin Brown (top left) and Gary's former Boro team-mate Lee Turnbull (top right) - by Graham Bell for MFC

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