A former Bothwell couple brought together some of the country’s top sports stars as they raised over £100,000 for charity.
United for Colitis in aid of Crohn’s and Colitis UK took place at Old Trafford, home of Manchester United, and was the brainchild of Jon and Diana McLeish.
Jon, son of former Motherwell manager Alex McLeish, was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis six years ago, the same condition which Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher and former England rugby captain Lewis Moody suffer from.
Darren has recently returned to first time action after losing nearly two years of his career to the condition, and his club were happy to throw their full weight behind the cause.
Attending the gala dinner were the likes of United manager David Moyes and Old Trafford heroes Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidić and Robin Van Persie, while legendary former boss Sir Alex Ferguson gave a speech.
Other guests including former Rangers manager Walter Smith, Celtic boss Neil Lennon, pop star Olly Murs, England rugby coach Andy Farrell, Hollywood actress Claire Forlani and Olympian Louise Hazel enjoyed a sumptuous dinner and took part in a question and answer session with Darren and Lewis.
Jon, who works as a sports agent, said: “I created this first United for Colitis event to increase awareness of the illnesses and raise money for people living with the daily challenges of IBD (inflammatory bowel disease).
“Our aim is to help others understand what they are going through and prepare people for what to expect, should they develop symptoms.”
Diana, the daughter of Lanarkshire lawyer Nicholas Scullion, believes his contact with Darren and Lewis has helped her husband.
She said: “It’s great that Darren has been able to get back into the first team at Manchester United after surgery.
“Surgery isn’t an option for Jon at the moment, like Lewis he has to manage his condition with medication, but being able to talk about his experiences with guys who are going through a similar thing has really been beneficial.
“There are currently 260,000 in the UK with Colitis, which is more than we realise than we realise, but many do not speak about it due to the embarrassing nature of the illness.
“It was a massive undertaking to organise the event, but we are dedicated to raising both awareness and funds in the hope that one day a cure can be found.
“We would like to thank the event sponsors Forth Capital and everyone who came along, including some guests from Lanarkshire, in total there were 470 in attendance, the majority in some way affected with IBD and we are delighted everyone seemed to have a great time.”
Crohn’s and Colitis UK want greater recognition of these life-long chronic conditions which cause severe stomach pains, urgency, diarrhoea, extreme fatigue, nausea and loss of appetite.
Chief executive David Barker said: “Most of the new cases of Crohn’s and Colitis diagnosed this year will be young people or children – that’s an estimated 10,000 young lives often severely affected by these diseases, which are all too prevalent and still poorly understood.”
If you would like to make a donation to the charity, you can visit the website