Proceeds from a star-studded charity football game have been handed over to a church which was in need of divine intervention.
St Ignatius Church, in Suffolk Street, Hendon, has been given £1,635.75 after The Match was staged at Ryhope CW’s ground in August.
Among those who turned out were former SAFC favourites Julio Arca, Alex Rae, Gary Bennett, Martin Smith and Jamie Lawrence.
England international Trevor Sinclair, ex-Aston Villa midfielder Mark Draper and Sky Sports’ Peter Graves and Keith Downey also took part. The cash will now go towards repairing the church’s roof.
Father Andrew Collins-Jones, of the church, had earlier this year appealed for help after leaks in the roof caused the rotting of the underlying woodwork and loosening of roof slates.
The church, which dates back to the 1880s, recently received a £10,800 grant from the Listed Places of Worship Repair Fund to help towards restoration, but more cash has been needed to make the roof watertight.
We just felt it was fitting that half of the money should go the church with it being the only one left in Hendon.Michael Ganley
Sunderland AFC memorabilia collector Michael Ganley, who is behind plans to create a permanent museum to house SAFC-related items in the city, was one of the organisers of the match, along with Richy Duggan, who plays for the Ignatius St Aidan’s football team which took on the former professionals’ side.
Money from the game is also going towards the Niall Quinn Children’s Centre at Sunderland Royal Hospital.
Michael said: “The cost of fixing the roof had overrun and the fact that Ignatius St Aidan’s are a Christian football side meant we wanted to help.
“We just felt it was fitting that half of the money should go the church with it being the only one left in Hendon.
“Father Andrew was over the moon and he told me that nobody in the community has done anything like this before.
“We’re going to be meeting the congregation soon and I’m sure they’ll all be grateful.”