PM’s PRAISE FOR FINLAY COOPER FUND

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Prime Minister David Cameron and a host of MPs have praised the Finlay Cooper Fund for the good work it’s done during a special reception at the House of Commons.

Hartlepool manager and Boro legend Colin Cooper set up the Finlay Cooper Fund with his wife, Julie, in 2006 after the tragic death of their son in 2002.

And the charity was given a special reception in Parliament, attended by Boro MPs Andy McDonald and Tom Blenkinsop and the Shadow Secretary for Health, Andy Burnham, as well as a number of other special guests including former Boro boss Bruce Rioch.

All three party leaders sent messages of support, including No.10, which said the prime minister was “very sorry to read of Colin and Julie Cooper’s tragic loss”.

The letter added: “It is heartening to see the support they have received for the Finlay Cooper Fund.”

Labour leader Ed Miliband sent a personal note, saying: “The way in which you are bringing help and support to thousands of people through the memory of Finlay is truly inspirational.”

Nick Clegg added: “This charity does incredible work. It’s an inspiring and powerful legacy and one which I hope the Coopers can continue to build – in the name of their son, Finlay – in the years ahead.”

Cooper admitted the whole experience – organised by Boro fan Mark Davies, communications director of Royal Mail, and hosted by Barnsley MP and Nottingham Forest fan Michael Dugher – could well top his achievements as a player.

“It’s a really surreal thing to be invited here, to actually pull up in a taxi outside the House of Commons and be allowed in!” he said.

“I had a wonderful experience as a professional footballer, I was given many opportunities to do many things, but I’m not sure if this tops the lot.”

Since Finlay died, Colin, Julie and supporters have raised more than £300,000 for children’s charities across the North-East.

Last year Colin climbed Kilimanjaro to raise money, along with Boro legend Craig Hignett and Sky Sports anchorman Jeff Stelling.

The event in Parliament was arranged to support the charity and raise awareness of its work.

“It’s been brilliant,” added Cooper. “Much, much more than I ever thought it could be.

“I feel very humble, very honoured and very privileged to be allowed to be in a place of this stature and speak about our charity.”

Rioch, who managed a young Cooper at Boro in the 80s and took him to Millwall, delivered an emotional speech during the reception.

“Setting up the Finlay Cooper Fund has given Colin and his family a focus to do as much as they can, not only on Finlay’s behalf, but also for children all around the country, and I think it’s quite fantastic,” said Rioch.

“It’s symptomatic of Colin and his family. They’ve always been champions of people. They like people, they care for people and this is just symptomatic of the way they are with people.”

The event was supported by National Express, the Premier League, Football Association, PD Ports and Linney Group.