More than £20,000 has been raised for Sunderland AFC’s official charity in memory of a popular businessman who died in a workplace tragedy.
Dentist Michael Oliver, from Oliver’s Dental Studio in East Herrington, organised the event in memory of print company boss Martyn Young who was killed in a forklift accident on February 17.
Martyn died following an incident involving a forklift truck at the Precision Printing site on Sunderland Enterprise Park, off Wessington Way.
Michael, who knew Martyn through the Foundation of Light’s annual cycle challenges, said the tragedy had spurred him into action.
“I was shocked by his death and wanted something positive to come out of such an awful tragedy,” said Michael.
Michael spoke to Martyn’s widow Donna, and she gave her blessing to Michael’s fundraising idea.
Donna and her family took two tables at the dinner, which was held at Durham County Cricket Club’s Riverside ground and attended by more than 170 guests.
The bash has brought in £21,000 for the organisation.
“I’d like to thank everyone who supported the evening – from those who so generously provided raffle and auction prizes to those who attended.
“It was a pleasure to hand over the cheque to the Foundation’s Richard Hopper in the presence of Martyn’s lovely wife Donna,” added Michael.
“I’m sure Martyn would be proud of us all and would approve of such a huge sum going to a charity he so generously and passionately supported.
“On behalf of Donna, I’d also like to thank the Great North Air Ambulance who fought so hard to save Martyn’s life.
“I know Donna has raised a substantial amount of money for them in Martyn’s memory.”
This year’s cycle challenge sees those taking part journey from Poland to Prague.
Lesley Spuhler OBE, chief executive at the Foundation, said she was grateful to Michael for his fundraising efforts.
“I can’t thank Michael enough for his commitment and hard work in arranging what was a lovely tribute to a special man,” said Lesley.
“We were devastated at the news of Martyn’s death – he was a firm and popular supporter of the Foundation and I know he’ll be in the thoughts of our cyclists as they set out on our ride from Poland to Prague on Monday morning.
“Martyn would have been among their number.”
BBC Look North’s Jeff Brown hosted the evening and entertainment was provided by Marty Longstaff, who performs as The Lake Poets, and Anthony Stringer.
Also present were SAFC 1973 FA Cup winners Mick Horswill and Ritchie Pitt, Durham and England batsman Keaton Jennings and captain and former England star Paul Collingwood, who all did a question and answer session.
Northumbria Police are working alongside the Health and Safety Executive to investigate the circumstances of the accident which caused Martyn’s death.
He had initially founded the First 2 Print business, which was taken over by London-based Precision Printing in 2014.
His funeral took place at St Cuthbert’s Church, in Durham City.