Top cricketers go to Longhirst for charity golf event

Ben Stokes and Graham Onions are pictured during the charity golf day at Longhirst Hall Golf Club.

Ben Stokes and Graham Onions are pictured during the charity golf day at Longhirst Hall Golf Club.

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Sporting stars joined members of the public on the fairways at a Northumberland venue in aid of good causes.

The latest in the series of events for Graham Onions’ Benefit Year took place on Thursday at Longhirst Hall Golf Club.

The Durham Cricket Club fast bowler, who has played for England, was joined by a number of team-mates – including current England players Ben Stokes and Mark Wood.

Proceeds from this and the other events, including gala dinners, a comedy night, a day at the races and another golf day earlier in the year at Close House, will go to The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, Comrades Of Children Overseas, Queen Elizabeth Hospital Special Care Baby Unit and Professional Cricketers Association Benevolent Fund.

Onions said that golf days are a very popular charity event and Longhirst Hall was chosen after it was highly recommended by ex-Durham and England cricketer Steve Harmison, who held a similar event at the club.

He added: “I’ve played here a few times now and once again the course was in great nick.

“I’m delighted with the turnout – it’s brilliant that so many people were willing to spend a decent amount of money to take part in the event.

“I used to play junior and second team games for Durham on one of the cricket pitches at Longhirst, so when I come back here it brings back a lot of memories.

“I’m very grateful to my team-mates for attending the events throughout the year and for this event, Longhirst Hall Golf Club has been very supportive and main sponsor Avec provided shirts and a goody bag for each player.

“I have played for only one county throughout my career and I was thrilled when Durham announced that as a result of my many years with the club, I would have the opportunity to organise events to raise money for four charities that are close to my heart.”

A total of 22 teams participated in the golf day at Longhirst. Individual prizes were available, there was a Beat the Pro challenge, a silent auction and raffle and a barbecue was provided.

Stokes said: “It’s the first time I’ve played at Longhirst. It’s a beautiful course and I hope to return in the future as I enjoy playing golf.

“Me and the other lads at Durham know how important it is to take part in these events because the more players that are involved, the more tickets are sold and more money is raised for the charities.”

Speaking about the upcoming games for England away to Pakistan and South Africa, he said: “We’re looking forward to these tours and hopefully we’ll build on our Ashes win this summer.

“Our aim is to go abroad and play well against teams in their preferred conditions.”

Longhirst Hall is one of the PGA EuroPro Tour venues.

Director of Golf Graham Chambers said: “Steve Harmison mentioned to Graham (Onions) how much he enjoyed his charity event here and we began talks with Graham’s benefit year committee about the golf day at the start of 2015.

“If we can do our part to help raise funds for the good causes and lift our profile at the same time, it works for everyone.

“Hosting events that bring top sporting stars to our club is also a nice treat for our regular members.”