England manager Gareth Southgate backs memorial football match for Nikki Cross

England manager Gareth Southgate is just one of dozens of celebrities to lend their backing to a family fun day in memory of Nikki Cross.

Wednesday, 5th April 2017, 5:45 pm
Updated Saturday, 8th April 2017, 10:26 pm
England manager Gareth Southgate lends his support to the Nikki Cross fun day and football match

England football manager Gareth Southgate is just one of dozens of celebrities to lend their backing to a family fun day in memory of Nikki Cross.

Nikki was tragically stabbed to death by an intruder in her home in Grovehill in September 2015, leaving behind her devastated husband Daniel and their two young children.

The crime shocked the community, but since then family and friends have worked to remember Nikki through good causes.

Nikki and husband Daniel

The Nikki’s Wishes fundraising group held a successful fun day and football match last year, which was attended by more than 3,000 people.

The match is returning this year with the hope of raising even more for the group.

Mathew Griffin, one of the organisers, said: “This event is to remember Nikki, show support to the family, have fun as a community and raise money for some very worthy causes.”

And Mathew scooped an unexpected supporter when he bumped into Southgate.

Gareth Southgate shows his support with the event poster

He said: “I was pulling into a car park and he ran past on his morning run.

“I always keep a banner for the event in my car in case, so I grabbed it and called him over.

“He came over smiling and was a true gentleman. We had a brief chat about the event and the memorial match.

“It was refreshing to meet someone of Gareth’s profile willing to give me their time and be so accommodating.”

The match was a big success last year

The event is being held once again at Vauxhall Road, home of Hemel Hempstead Town, on Saturday, May 13.

The Nikki Cross Memorial Cup football match will feature husband Daniel, as well as Millwall manager Neil Harris, old QPR stars Marc Bircham and Tommy Smith, and Crystal Palace legend Dougie Freedman.

Also pulling on a shirt will be TV star Ralf Little.

Mathew added: “With the help of Marc Bircham and his brother Lee, we have engaged some very good names from the footballing world for the Memorial Cup match.

Nikki and husband Daniel

“We are extremely grateful to the Bircham brothers and everyone who has given up their time to come and show their support for Nikki, Daniel and their children.”

Meanwhile families will be able to enjoy attractions and stalls, and an RAF flypast.

There will also be fairground rides and games, accompanied by stalls selling cakes, coffee, waffles, popcorn and heavily discounted toys. Children will also enjoy face painting, hair braiding and glitter tattoos in the presence of well-known life sized children’s characters.

Another event organiser, Brian Jackson, added: “We have written to football clubs, sports personalities, celebrities and major organisations from around the world.

“The response and support has been phenomenal and most items have gone into secure storage because of their value.

“By way of example, we have received artwork from Rolling Stones legend Ronnie Wood, Chris Froome’s signed and worn Tour de France jersey, a signed cap from the personal collection of Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe and a limited edition watch from Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone – we have something for all budgets.”

Gareth Southgate shows his support with the event poster

The items donated will be sold via auction before, during and after the event, with some items, such as bicycles and electrical goods, up for grabs as prizes in the raffle on the day.

Money raised this year will be split between Child Bereavement UK and Nikki’s Wishes, with the latter once again making donations and pledges to local causes.

Tickets are expected to go on sale next week. For more information, please visit the Nikki’s Wishes Facebook page.

The match was a big success last year