SNOOKER superstars are cue-ing up to pocket cash for Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice after World Snooker named it as its official charity for the next year and pledged to raise £120,000.
And even the sport’s bad boys will help.
All player fines will be handed over to the Sheffield hospice - which costs £3 million a year to run, with no statutory government funding.
Other fund-raising initiatives are in the frame to inject cash and players will also visit the hospice, promised World Snooker Chairman Barry Hearn and WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson, who visited Bluebell Wood to announce the year-long partnership.
Last season, World Snooker supported Haven House Children’s Hospice in Essex and raised more than the target sum of £120,000. It is hoped that a similar sum can be raised for Bluebell Wood.
Barry, aged 64, one of theworld’s top sports promoters, also founder and chairman of promotions company Matchroom Sport, said: “We raised the money for a southern charity last year - so this year it’s the turn of a deserving cause up north.
“Sheffield is the Snooker City so it is fitting that we are working with a charity in the region,’’ he said.
“We’re a world organisation but we are delighted to be able to support such an amazing charity.
“It’s only when you visit Bluebell Wood that you realise the extent of the work they do for children and their families. It costs £3 million a year to provide that service and they receive no statutory government funding. We are determined to do everything we can to help them and we have several initiatives lined up which will raise money. Once again, player fines will be donated to the charity.”
World champion and snooker legend Ronnie O’Sullivan had refused to sign a player contract but he’s now back on board - so subject to the same fines as the rest.
Two-time world champion Mark Williams was fined £3,000 by WPBSA for a Twitter outburst when he claimed he “hates” Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre, the venue for the World Snooker Championship.
World number 13 Mark Allen was also recently fined £2,000 by World Snooker for failing to appear at five tournament publicity events. Over the next year such fines go to Bluebell Wood.
Jason, 43, a former professional snooker player, added after the hospice visit: “”It’s important to realise how lucky we are to be healthy, with healthy children, and to be generous to those who are not as fortunate. Bluebell Wood is a fantastic cause and we’re urging everyone to get involved and make a donation.”
The World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association, or WPBSA, is the governing body of professional snooker and English billiards, based in Bristol. But it became aware of the hospice because Sheffield is where it has staged the World Snooker Championship for 35 years and will remain until at least 2015, at the Crucible.
Bluebell Wood offers care and support to children with a shortened life expectancy, both in their own homes and at the hospice in Cramfit Road, North Anston, Sheffield.
It provides support to children and their families throughout South Yorkshire, North Derbyshire, North East Lincolnshire and North Nottinghamshire.
Sarah Champion, Chief Executive of Bluebell Wood, praised World Snooker’s decision to support them for a year and said without the help of supporters the hospice could not help as many families as it does.
“We are so proud that World Snooker have decided to support Bluebell Wood,’’ she said.
“It is an incredible honour to be chosen. It is only through the support of organisations such as World Snooker that we can continue giving the vital support to children in our region who will not reach adulthood.”and we help support the whole family.”
Find out more about Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice and how you can help - visit its official web site at www.bluebellwood.org
VIDEO: Watch our video report including interviews with Barry Hearn, Jason Ferguson and Sarah Champion at thestar.co.uk/video