A boxing champion has helped raise thousands of pounds for a charity set up in memory of a little girl who lost her fight with cancer aged just five.
The recently crowned IBF world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua MBE was the star guest at the Niamh’s Next Step fundraiser at Aspers casino in Northampton on Saturday.
The sell-out event raised £20,000 for the Wellingborough-based charity in memory of Niamh Curry who lost her 18-month battle with childhood cancer neuroblastoma in May 2012.
Her parents Sam and Chris Curry launched the charity to help other families fighting this cancer and to raise money to fund research into neuroblastoma, which is not currently funded by the NHS or UK Government.
More than 220 people attended the event, with the money raised through ticket sales and donations.
Aspers’ general manager David Stratford said: “The work Niamh’s Next Step does is incredible, and when they approached us about using our function hire facilities and restaurant, we were more than happy to donate our resources for free.
“Community involvement is very important for Aspers and with such a worthwhile cause benefiting from the event, we were delighted to be involved.”
The event started with a live performance from Northamptonshire band Grande Quattro before guests enjoyed a three-course meal.
But the star of the evening was Joshua, who won a gold medal winner in the super heavyweight division at the 2012 Olympics and silver at the 2011 World Championships before securing the IBF World Heavyweight Champion title last month.
Niamh’s dad Chris Curry of Wellingborough said: “It was an amazing night and exceeded all our expectations.
“It was an amazing atmosphere.
“The overall night raised £20,000, which I had never imagined.
“It was a new crowd for us, there was probably 80 per cent of new faces and new businesses.
“We had 15 businesses book tables and they have all said they want to get involved with the charity so that is what this is all about.
“The money raised on the night is fantastic, but it is about the awareness raised.
“It is about Niamh, the cancer and now we are putting some money into research so it is great to tell people where their money is going.
“The feedback since the night has been fantastic.”
Guests at the event included charity patrons Peter McDonagh and Jamie Moore as well as former Eastenders actor Tony Discipline and Towie star Charlie Sims.
Chris said it was great to bring ‘the most exciting British boxer’ to Northampton and he praised Aspers for helping them put on such a good night.
He said: “For someone like AJ to come to Northampton is brilliant.
“He said, and his team also said, that it was the best night he has ever done.
“I think he could see the passion in the room.”
Chris said Aspers, the main sponsor on the night, provided the perfect venue for the event, bringing a Las Vegas feel to the fundraiser, and added: “Aspers have been absolutely fantastic.”
For more information about the charity click here