Football legends support charity

Former footballing legends Alan Shearer and Iain Dowie with Karen and Christian Smith at the fundraiser
Former footballing legends Alan Shearer and Iain Dowie with Karen and Christian Smith at the fundraiser

Ex-England captain Alan Shearer came to town to help raise funds for a Down’s Syndrome charity.

The Newcastle United legend and Match of the Day pundit was at Kettering’s Wicksteed Park on Friday for A Night With The Pundits.

The black-tie event also featured ex-Crystal Palace manager Iain Dowie, and was organised by Christian Smith, 39, of Kettering, who founded Northamptonshire-based Ups ‘n’ Downs.

Mr Shearer said: “I’ve been round to meet Christian’s family who are part of a great charity. Obviously it’s not possible to go to charity events every day – you need to be selective, in the nicest possible way, but it’s a pleasure for me to be here.”

Willie Miller, who made a club record 558 appearances for Aberdeen, was also at the event.

Premier League record goalscorer Mr Shearer was visiting Kettering for the first time.

He was once the world’s most expensive player when he moved from Blackburn Rovers to Newcastle United in 1996 for £15m.

Guests were treated to a three-course meal, before the pundits were interviewed by Sky Sports News presenter Matt Lorenzo.

Ups ’n’ Downs was formed in 2006 by Mr Smith and his wife, Karen, 43, as a support network for parents whose children have Down’s Syndrome.

Its members meet up regularly at the Wacky Warehouse in Rushden and the charity aims to raise awareness of the condition.

Mr and Mrs Smith had to take the heart-rending decision whether to keep their son Dylan, now five, or terminate the pregnancy after a scan revealed the condition before birth. They decided to keep him and say it is the best decision they have ever made.

Mr Smith said: “There’s not a day that goes by that we don’t cherish every minute we have with our son.

“For most parents, it’s a heck of a shock when their child is diagnosed with the condition, but we’ve tried to create a network to support people.

“Working for the Professional Footballers Association I’m in a privileged position and I used my connections to request the support of Alan and Iain. We’ve sold 700 tickets and we hope to raise about £20,000 for the charity from it.”