Former Sunderland players on the checkouts

BAG PACKING: Boldon School pupils Kieran Gibson, 14, Richard Delroy, 13, and Sophie Stephenson, 14, with Martin Gray, centre, and Brian Atkinson.

BAG PACKING: Boldon School pupils Kieran Gibson, 14, Richard Delroy, 13, and Sophie Stephenson, 14, with Martin Gray, centre, and Brian Atkinson.

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FORMER Sunderland stars traded in the football pitch for a shopping checkout to help a school’s fund-raising stunt.

Martin Gray and Brian Atkinson joined pupils from Boldon School during the sponsored bag-pack at their local Asda store.

The two-day charity effort raised funds for local charities and school activities, such as the Make A Wish charity and the school’s senior citizen’s Christmas party.

Dozens of young people took part in the bag-pack, with each group of children doing a two-hour stint, covering 25 checkouts over six hours.

Boldon School’s deputy head Chris Smith, who co-ordinated the event, said: “We would like this to be an annual event and we’re grateful to Asda for allowing us to do the bag-packing again this year as we did some years ago.

“The two days will raise hundreds of pounds and the support from shoppers is extremely appreciated.

“It was also great to see Martin and Brian, two former Sunderland players who are working closely with the school at the moment, to pop along for an hour to lend their support.”

Gray, 40, played 79 games for Sunderland between 1990 and ’96 before joining Oxford United. He went on to play for Darlington and later became assistant manager.

Atkinson, also 40, played 169 games for Sunderland between 1989 and ’96, including an FA Cup Final appearance against Liverpool at Wembley in 1990.

The pair are delivering hugely successful football coaching programmes throughout the region, as part of the Martin Gray Football Academy, and they’re working closely with Boldon School, a specialist sports college.

Gray said: “It’s always nice to lend your support to worthwhile fund-raising efforts and I know Boldon do a lot of work in the community, which is great to see. We look forward to working with Boldon in the years to come.”

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