Former Durham County Cricket player Ash Thorpe hosting Australia bushfire crisis fundraiser at Washington Cricket Club
A former county cricketer whose mother was evacuated during the devastating fires that have caused havoc in his native Australia is hosting a special fundraiser to help those affected Downunder.
Ash Thorpe, 44, who played for Durham County Cricket Club in the 2000s, was born and raised in New South Wales, and is hoping to raise money to support emergency services fighting the blaze and those forced to evacuate their homes.
His mother still lives in the town of Port Macquarie where he was raised, and Ash, who moved to the UK in the 1990s, said she has been evacuated twice due to the ongoing dangers of the fires.
He said: “Australia is always in my thoughts. To see close family, friends and wildlife impacted by these fires is heartbreaking.
“Hopefully the money we raise gives some comfort to those who need it most. I’d love to raise £1,000 but I haven’t set any targets.”
Ash now plays for Washington Cricket Club, and the fundraising night will be held at its ground in Vigo Lane at 7pm on Saturday January 25.
The fundraiser, hosted by Ash, will feature a raffle, live music and authentic Aussie treats donated by Durham CCC bowler and fellow Australian, Nathan Rimmington.
Former Australian international and Durham CCC director of cricket, Marcus North, has also donated one of his own signed test shirts that will be up for grabs.
Hundreds of bushfires have burnt across Australia for months, killing at least 28 people and destroying more than 2,000 homes.
The massive infernos that have raged along the nation's east coast have been on such a scale that US space agency Nasa is expecting smoke from the blazes to make at least one full circuit of the globe.
Large Australian cities including Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, and Adelaide have endured dangerous air quality levels due to smoke from nearby fires.
More than 100 blazes continue to burn in the east of Australia, but authorities have said cooler conditions in recent days and forecast rain have aided firefighting efforts.