The legendary Yorkshire cricket umpire Dickie Bird has agreed to become an ambassador for the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund in Leeds, after donating £30,000 to the charity.
Mr Bird, who umpired 92 one-day internationals and three World Cup finals, said he had been moved to act after visiting patients and their families earlier in the ear.
The charity supports children and adults throughout the region who were born with congenital heart defects in our region. They are treated at Leeds General Infirmary.
Its chief executive, Sharon Coyle, said: “We are beyond thrilled that Dickie Bird, a true Yorkshireman and sporting icon, is becoming our ambassador.
“His generous donation, and influence in our region as ambassador, will be felt by generations to come in our continued mission to support hearts for life.”
She added: “Dickie visited the children’s cardiac ward earlier in the year, and his heartfelt engagement with young patients and their families was inspiring to see - it gave them a huge boost.”
Harold ‘Dickie’ Bird, who was born in Barnsley and played for Yorkshire and Leicestershire between 1956 and 1964, has become an author and media celebrity since his retirement from the sport in 1996.
He said: “I’m delighted to help Children’s Heart Surgery Fund and the Leeds congenital heart unit with my donation, and feel privileged to become their ambassador.”
The fund, which will mark its 30th anniversary as a charity next year, supports patients born with heart disease and their families throughout Yorkshire by funding the ground-breaking work of the Leeds Congenital Heart Unit.
The charity is entirely funded by donations from local supporters who help pay for life-saving equipment, accommodation for visiting parents, clinical research, ward facilities and key staffing positions.
The unit played host to Mr Bird yesterday, as he met patients and their families.
Earlier this year, the charity launched a new campaign to help raise funds for a new children’s heart theatre at the infirmary.
The charity has already committed £1.25m to the project, and its Keeping the Beat campaign aims to raise £500,000 over the next two years.
The Congenital Heart Unit in Leeds is the fourth busiest in Britain, with at least 10,000 babies and children from the region passing through it every year, and around 400 having open heart surgery.
The charity will host a Christmas party at the Royal Armouries on December 10, and next September, it will stage another sponsored Superhero Walk, in which children in comic book costumes gather at Temple Newsam.