50,000 ways of remembering popular Sunderland Rugby player

Grace House Charity Committee with Jake Quickenden and Danny Posthill. Pictures by Alan Hewson
Grace House Charity Committee with Jake Quickenden and Danny Posthill. Pictures by Alan Hewson
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The legacy of a popular young rugby player lives on as £50,000 was raised in his name.

Jamie Maclennan, 27, of Thornhill, died unexpectedly from epilepsy in December 2014, leaving his family and friends devastated.

Jamie Maclennan

Jamie Maclennan

Determined to carry on his passion for volunteering at Grace House, they held a Chin4Jamie Ball at Ashbrooke Sports Club field, where Jamie played rugby, and raised £50,000 for the short break and respite care facility for children with life-limiting conditions.

Attracting 750 guests, it’s the second ball to be held in his memory and featured performances from Jake Quickenden, runner up in the 2014 X Factor and I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, and Danny Posthill, impressionist from the 2015 Britain’s Got Talent.

But the true stars of the evening were Jamie’s girlfriend Emily Ferries and his rugby team mates Bradley Fish, Liam Evans, Joe Arrowsmith, Christopher Turner and Jamie Sword.

Emily opened the evening singing the Ella Eyre version of Swing Low Sweet Chariot and Whitney Houston’s I Have Nothing, while the Sunderland Rugby lads were Beyonce, Britney, Christina and hip hop act LMFAO for the night.

Harry & Nicola Collinson

Harry & Nicola Collinson

Jamie’s mum Karen Maclennan, who is also senior fundraiser at Grace House North East, said “It was an emotional evening filled with friends and family who miss Jamie so very, very much.

“His sudden death has left a huge hole in our hearts and the pain is still as raw as it was on the day and days following his death. Jamie supported Grace House and took part in our events. He was an active volunteer, helping out at Grace House only a week before he died, so Grace House was an obvious choice for fundraising.

“The two Chin4Jamie Balls could not have happened if it hadn’t been for a large group of family and friends who came together as a committee to organise the events in their own time and for that I am so truly grateful.”

Tens of thousands of pounds were raised thanks to guests bidding for auction prizes including flights to Dubai, Jonny Wilkinson memorabilia and a three-day charter for up to 11 people on board luxury yachts in Palma, Majorca.

Aidan Maclennan, Jamies brother second left with from left, Trevor, Aidan, Joe, Lloyd and Jack

Aidan Maclennan, Jamies brother second left with from left, Trevor, Aidan, Joe, Lloyd and Jack

Karen added: “I wanted to keep the ball in Sunderland but there was nowhere that caters for the number of guests that we knew wanted to come. It was a massive undertaking to bring a marquee onto a sports field with no amenities, and the organising committee wanted to make sure that all the running costs could be met through the ticket sales, corporate sponsorship and support so that Grace House would receive 100% of the money raised on the night.

“I would like to thank Michael Collins from Ashbrooke Sports Club who has been instrumental in helping from last September when I first asked about the possibility of holding the event on the field - the same field Jamie played rugby on. Huge thanks also has to go to all the contractors who worked under immense pressure and extreme weather conditions, including Fairbairn Marquees and Already Sorted sound and light.

“Our sponsors and supporters were Great Annual Savings, Everyone Active, Shine, Matt Somers Coaching Skills Training, Mint Management, Town Centre Citroen, Precision Print, Pure Bliss, Hair Cosmetics Ltd, Alan Hewson Photography, and Tricia Steele and her colleagues at Barclays Bank Contact Centre at Doxford Park who volunteered and provided match funding.”

Preparations are already in place for next year’s event and anyone who would like to help with sponsorship, support, or who wants to get in early and book their table now, is asked to contact Karen on Tel. 525 2885, 07956 566269 or email km@gracehouse.co.uk.

Emily Ferries, Jamies girlfriend

Emily Ferries, Jamies girlfriend