Headingley icons Kevin Sinfield MBE and Ryan Sidebottom lit up their old stomping ground in a different way this week.
The former Leeds Rhinos skipper and the retiring Yorkshire cricketer were the special guest speakers at Leeds Rhinos Foundation’s annual fundraising dinner. More than £25,000 was raised for the charity’s work on the night.
The sporting duo entertained more than 350 guests in the long bar at Emerald Headingley Stadium on Tuesday night.
The stars, who are also vice presidents of the charity, spoke to BBC journalist Tanya Arnold on stage about their memories of Headingley, career highlights and passion for Leeds Rhinos Foundation’s work in the community.
Mr Sidebottom said: “The Leeds Rhinos Foundation does such amazing work and to be part of that raises awareness and gets people taking up sport regardless of background and whether you end up following sport or playing sport, it does great things.
“For me to be involved in this event is really humbling, I’m really proud to be part of the foundation as a vice president and long may its success and night’s like this continue.”
The audience also included members of the Leeds Rhinos first team, including Captain Kallum Watkins and fellow England international Ryan Hall along with charity trustee Jamie Jones-Buchanan who all provided auction and raffle items on the night in support of the charity.
The room also heard from the chairman of Leeds Rhinos Foundation Phil Caplan. Staff members also spoke about the different work delivered across the city in health, disability, education and women’s sport.
Singer Lizzie Jones performed a rendition of ‘Memory’ from the stage show ‘Cats’, which tied in with the theme of the event.
The dinner brought together supporters of the charity from different public spheres including the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Coun Jayne Dowson, and the leader of Leeds City Council, Coun Judith Blake,
The event also highlighted the new enterprises the charity has launched over the past 12 months which have been created to provide more opportunities for women and girls to participate in more sport. This has included work with Northern Ballet, Leeds Rhinos Netball and a new Leeds Rhinos Women’s team.
Bob Bowman, chief operating officer for Leeds Rhinos Foundation, said “I am delighted with how the fundraising memory dinner went, the night was a wonderful occasion to see in excess of 300 people coming together to support us and the work that we do in the Leeds community.
“I have to say specific thanks to all the sponsors, donors, friends and supporters of the Leeds Rhinos Foundation who turned out in their numbers, dug deep into their pockets and raised in excess of £25,000 for the charity.
“This level of support means we can continue the highly influential work in the city of Leeds, which allows people greater opportunities to be the best they can be, many thanks to everybody who cam along and I hope to see them all again the next time we have such an event.”
Many businesses and organisations including members of Mears, Caddick Construction, Emerald and Chadwick Lawrence law firm were among the guests.