Ronnie Whelan made winning a habit during a glittering career at Liverpool, and the Anfield legend showed he’s just as successful on the golf course when he took to the fairways to support a UK children’s charity at Spain’s world-famous La Manga Club resort last week.
Whelan, who won 12 major honours during his 15-year spell with the Reds including the European Cup and six league titles, teamed up with his wife Elaine, Tom Drury and Greg Jackson to finish top of the leaderboard in the Caudwell Children Celebrity Golf Classic in Murcia.
Joining the former Republic of Ireland midfielder at La Manga Club were a host of famous names from football and television – including fellow European Cup winner Alan Kennedy, ex-Leeds and QPR defender Clarke Carlisle, Emmerdale actors Tom Lister and Daniel Casey and television and radio presenter Andy Collins – with the two-day event raising £7,500 for the Caudwell Children charity.
Whelan said: “It was a very enjoyable few days at La Manga Club on a fantastic course and I had great fun with the team that I played in. But more importantly it raised vital money for a great cause.”
Kennedy added: “It was fabulous meeting up with Ronnie and the lads and it was a really enjoyable couple of days. La Manga Club is arguably the world’s best sports resort and the golf courses are superb.
“But I particularly enjoyed it because it’s such a good cause as the charity has recently launched a specialist sports programme that provides disabled children with the sports equipment that they need to participate, which is simply fantastic.
“Every child deserves the opportunity to play sport as it’s vital for their physical health and mental well-being, so I was delighted to support the charity by playing in the event.”
Previous celebrity captains at the event have included former England footballer, now Strictly Come Dancing contestant, David James, and TV presenters Ant & Dec and Ben Shephard, and they’ve been joined, down the years, by many other celebrities from the worlds of sport, stage and screen.
Nick Montgomery, general manager at La Manga Club, added: “We were thrilled to be given the chance to host this fantastic event. Everyone had a great time, on and off the course, and the resort was delighted to play a part in raising money for such a worthwhile cause.”
Established in 2000, by entrepreneur and philanthropist John Caudwell, the Staffordshire-based Caudwell Children charity provides practical and emotional support to disabled children and their families so they can lead happy, active and independent lives.
Caudwell, who co-founded mobile phone retailer Phones 4u, is the charity’s main benefactor and his generosity ensures every penny raised at such events goes directly towards specialist equipment such as powered wheelchairs, specialist buggies, therapy tricycles, specialist car seats and disability sports equipment.
The charity also provides funding for treatments not currently available from the NHS, and life-changing therapy programmes for children with brain injuries, like cerebral palsy. It has recently created an autism programme to assess, diagnose, and support children with the condition.
In the 19 years since its inception, the charity has supported more than 45,000 children, with 652 conditions, at a staggering cost of £43m.
Set in an exclusive corner of Murcia and three times the size of Monaco, La Manga Club is regarded as a golfing Mecca by players across the world. Named as ‘Europe’s Best Golf Venue’ at the World Golf Awards the last two years in a row, its extensive facilities include three 18-hole golf courses, a nine-hole, par-47 academy course and first-class golf training centre.
The official overseas training base of the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), the resort’s extensive other facilities include a 28-court tennis centre, a recently-opened European Cricket Performance Centre and a 2,000sqm Wellness Centre. Host to Spain’s only official Chelsea FC Foundation Soccer School, it also features the choice of a five-star hotel, four-star serviced apartments and townhouses and more than 15 bars and restaurants. For further information on the Caudwell Children charity, visit www.caudwellchildren.com/celebrity-golf and for more details on La Manga Club, go to www.lamangaclub.com.