April Fool’s Day came a bit early for me this year when I made a guest appearance on BBC’s Saturday night show ‘Let’s Dance For Sport Relief’ last month. The pork pie hat wasn’t a joke. Honest!!
Last year I did actually dance, but this time I played darts in the Shenanagan’s back stage bar – where I rubbed shoulders with celebs like Olly Murs and C4’s ‘Shameless’ star Alice Barry (see photo) better known as Lillian Tyler the hilarious character who runs the brothel in the series. Amazingly she has been in Shameless since 2004! She’s also been in loads of other top shows including Peter Kay’s ‘Phoenix Nights’ and ‘Coronation Street’.
Anyway, she seemed to be just a lovely and harmless little lady when we met, but I think she more than shocked TV host Steve Jones when she welcomed him with an enthusiastic squeeze of his crotch!
I had to make sure that she stayed well clear of my trouser bling, but it was all in good fun – even though it did cause a few blushes (and maybe bruises in Steve Jones’ case!). It even made the papers!
My eyes are watering just thinking about it, but she was probably just acting in character, which is more than could be said for me when Steve demanded a 180 live on telly! It was like being on Bullseye all over again as I hit three single 20’s which he called as 180!! (Who said I can’t count?).
Nice bloke is Steve and I enjoyed the whole experience because you never mind what you do for a good cause (ask Alice!).
To be honest, I’ve had quite a showbiz month!
Me and Marie went to the famous London Palladium to see ‘The Wizard of Oz’ (what a great show) at the invitation of my old Celebrity Fit Club mate, Russell Grant, who has taken over the part of the Wizard from Michael Crawford for a few months.
We also met the lovely Sophie Evans and her equally lovely family from Welsh Tonypandy (would you, could you, should you?) who has taken over the lead role of Dorothy from Danielle Hope (see photo with Marie, Sophie and me).
It was great to meet up with some of the Celebrity Fit Club ‘gang’ as well as John Cameron from ‘Cash In The Attic, and the crowd from ‘Strictly’ including Denise Welch and Nancy Dell’Olio (yes, it is spelt like this!).
All very glamorous, darling! But away from the red carpet of the West End, I had a smashing time rolling out my own version to welcome everyone from the UK Sports Association to George Hall to celebrate last year’s Bobby George Darts Marathon, which raised £8,500. Unbelievably, this makes the grand total raised over the last five marathons £208,000!
I hosted the presentations to celebrate the achievements of loads of darts teams and handed out loads of exciting prizes, including slap-up meals, tickets on the Eurostar, Adventure Days out and loads more.
Over 170 players competed last September, and it was the Nolan’s Freehouse team from Vauxhall, London who once again raised the most - an outstanding £2,583! They won the Highest Team Sponsorship category for the fifth successive time and brought the total they have raised to £14,500 (see Chris Sargeant’s photo of them with me at George Halll).
The winner of the Highest Individual Sponsorship category was Johnny Parfitt with £1,725 which again is an incredible achievement.
The Highest Team Score winners were ‘North London Cowboys’ representing The Sporting Green Pub in Enfield. They scored an impressive 180,304 in their 4 hour marathon and took home the much coveted Bobby George Perpetual Trophy after raising, £1,674.
Prizes were also awarded to the RAFA Club, Gosport and Brewers Arms, Burgess Hill, West Sussex.
To be honest it was a privilege and a pleasure to be involved once again, and lovely to see all the happy faces of those who continue to raise much needed funds to support disabled athletes. I must also say how professional Tracey McCillen and her UK Sports Association team are.
As always it was a great pleasure to work with them for such a good cause and a special big thank you to Chris Sargeant who took all the lovely photo’s.
Tracey, who is CEO of the UK Sports Association says: “Darts players are amongst the most generous I know and I am so grateful for all their efforts. Without such generosity our work to support athletes with learning disability simply couldn’t continue.” She also thanked me for my support (my pleasure Doll) and all the donors who provided some great prizes to reward all the hard work.
The Marathon raised much-needed funds to aid the work of the UK Sports Association which is dedicated to supporting people with learning disability across the UK to train, compete and excel in sport, as well as KEEN London who give children and young adults with special needs the chance to enjoy sport and creative activities in a safe, supported and fun environment.
It is appropriate in this Olympic and Paralympic year that their combined work is helping athletes at different levels to build confidence, develop day to day skills that most take for granted, and have opportunities to succeed in the sport or activity of their choice.
I am delighted to do what I can to help, and any pubs, clubs or individual players who are interested in doing the same should contact Tracey McCillen on 0207 490 3057 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
As everyone should know by now I love encouraging the young players in darts (my Richie is doing very well at the moment) so it was great to hear from young James Kent of the Clacton Youth Darts Academy. He’s a committee member and wrote to tell me how well they are doing.
They recently held an in-house tournament in the memory of Dave Barnes, the father of one of the Academy players and a well known darts player in Clacton, who sadly passed away.
They had a great turn out of youngsters aged 8-21 and when they got down to the last 8, James found himself in the line-up with Joe Fennessy, Nick Hayes, Robert Hayes, Liam Fairclough, Jack Root, Joe Twinn and Daniel Harrison.
Some great darts were thrown and the final ended up being between young James and Nick Hayes. It was 301 best of 5 and it had the whole academy cheering a great closely fought game which James eventually won 3-2. Must mention that John Freeman was the chalker and Tracey Barnes did the calling.....a real team effort and lots of fun!
James won the award for the Most Improved Player; Best Newcomer was Harry Copings and the Best Girl Player of the evening was Vannessa Preston, with Harleigh Waddell as runner-up.
Over the last year this lovely Academy has grown in the number of players aged from 8-21 and have a great team of volunteers – youngsters and adults - who assist in the running of day to day events.
They recently made the journey to Herne bay in Kent to play another Youth Academy and James and Liam Fairclough made it to the Semi-Finals where they were both unlucky to lose 3-2 on the day. The main thing is that all the kids had a great day out and as well as playing some great darts they made loads of new friends.
They entered players in the recent Clacton Youth Open and Nicholas Hayes won the 8-13’s category in a final against Jack Kazmaric. To add to the success of the Academy, Joe Twinn won the 14-19’s category – beating Anthony Lyddon. Jodie Barnes won the Ladies Category with Vanessa Preston just losing out
They were also represented in the Essex Open Youth Competition, held at Colchester United’s football ground. All the players put in good performances, supporting each other and doing their fair share of chalking.
James has asked me to thank the ‘grown-up’ committee members who give the youngsters so much encouragement and support: John and Tracy Freeman, Shaun and Gloria Preston, Bob Smith, Bill Root, Diane Hayes and Troy Doherty. Three Cheers from me on behalf of James and all the youngsters.
A special mention of two great friends of me and Marie, Terry and Sharon Sweeney for all their generous donations and support for the Academy. It is appropriate to use the words of young James, who says: ‘Thank you for supporting our academy and giving us the drive and confidence to be the best we can be’.
Just like Terry and Sharon, I am more than happy to encourage such enthusiastic youngsters to fulfil their potential on the oche. They love their darts and it shows!
Finally, on a very sad note, my condolences go the family and friends of Richie Herbert who passed away recently. He was a former Captain of Wales who was capped 29 times for his country and as well as being a great darts player he always had a smile on his face. God bless.