An evening of sporting celebration raises £70,000 for St Oswald’s Hospice

On Thursday 16th February, St Oswald’s Hospice hosted a Sports Dinner event at Gateshead’s Hilton Hotel, in partnership with Newcastle United Assistant Head Coach and Hospice Ambassador, Graeme Jones.

Graeme and his wife Debbie wanted to organise a fundraising event to support the hospice after the couple never forgot the care given to Graeme’s mam over thirty years ago, when she was a patient on our inpatient unit. The Sports Dinner was planned as a way to raise funds for and awareness of St Oswald’s Hospice and how it supports its local community.

The event was a sell-out, with almost 400 guests walking the red carpet to a drinks reception, including several Newcastle United players including Kieran Trippier, Bruno Guimarães and Dan Burn. Head Coach Eddie Howe was there to show support to his number two, along with the rest of the coaching team, who were announced into the room to applause. The room looked stunning, thanks to Big Purple Productions, who dressed and lit the space to perfectly fit the special occasion.


What followed was a very memorable evening, starting with some fun with host Justin Lockwood, as the icebreaker game, ‘Red Card, Yellow Card’ took on a football theme. Then Graeme Jones took to the stage to share his personal connection to the hospice. In front of friends, family, colleagues and hospice supporters, Graeme recalled his own experience with hospice care, when at just 20 years old, he learned that his mam, Rita, had incurable cancer. There was silence in the room as Graeme spoke of his memories of that time and how he never forgot the difference the hospice made to him and his family.

After highlighting the work of our adult services, our Head of Fundraising, Jane Hogan, shone the spotlight on our Children and Young Adults service – or specifically, one young man who shows that anything is possible. Dylan, 19, is an avid gamer and as his condition causes him to have limited movement in his hands, so he uses special technology to play his favourite game, FIFA, on his PlayStation, using eye movements. Dylan, along with friend and fellow service user, Ewan, were special guests on the table next to Newcastle and got the chance to meet their heroes – although by the end of the night, they has won themselves a few fans too!



After a three course meal, guest speaker Gareth Southgate took to the stage, in conversation with Justin Lockwood. Justin took the audience through some key milestones in Southgate’s career as a player then a manager, covering everything from what it’s like to have your every decision scrutinized and his thoughts on social media, to what he does to relax and what is his favourite film (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, fact fans!)

Next up was an auction with prizes up for grabs including tickets to the sold out Sam Fender concert, signed football shirts and the chance for a child to experience being a NUFC mascot for the day! Once these were all sold, it was time to announce the total raised on the night. There was a huge round of applause when it was revealed that after costs are taken off, a massive £70,000 was raised to support the patients and families as St Oswald’s Hospice.

Looking back at the event, Graeme Jones said:

“The Sports Dinner was an incredible evening. There was so much support in the room, and for Gareth, Eddie and the lads to give their time, well, it really meant a lot to me and my family. I am delighted that I could help in this way.

My wife Debbie and I never forgot the care that my mam received at St Oswald’s Hospice. The staff looked after us all at what was in incredibly difficult time and I had always planned to work with the hospice in some way, to show my support and help them to raise funds. Now that I am back in the region, it seems like the perfect time. I am proud to be working with the St Oswald’s Hospice team to support their fundraising events and raise awareness of their vital work in our North East community. I hope that the Sports Dinner will be the first of many events we work on together!”



St Oswald’s Hospice Chief Executive, Steph Edusei added:

“I can’t say thank you enough to Graeme and Debbie for making this incredible event happen. We were delighted to have Graeme come on board as a Hospice Ambassador and his own personal experience of hospice care mean that his speech at the event was very powerful and moving.

This is our first event of its kind since the pandemic and it was a huge success, thanks to the hard work of everyone involved, the guests who gave so generously throughout the night and to the Newcastle United players and coaching staff for giving up their time in a very busy schedule of games. We wish Graeme and Newcastle United the very best of luck against Manchester United in the Carabao Cup Final at Wembley, on Sunday 26th February.”

Thank you to all our guests for getting dressed up and joining us. You can view a gallery of photos, taken by Lee Gibbins Photography here.

Special thanks to Graeme and Debbie Jones, Newcastle United, Gareth Southgate, Girls that Mix, Justin Lockwood, Dylan Marshall and family, Hilton Hotel, Big Purple Productions, Lee Gibbins Photography, Umbro, Steve Harmison, Sam Fender, Mick Oxley, Hanro.

If you would like to make a donation to Graeme Jones’ Sports Dinner, donations can still be made via this link here.

All winners from the raffle on the night have been contacted. The winning numbers were:

grey 141-145, pink 146-150, blue 116-120, pink41-45, yellow 36-40, yellow 206-216, grey 201-205, pink 356-360, green 291-295, green 341-345, grey 336-340, blue 31-35.

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