Football royalty support inaugural charity ball in memory of hero youngster Bradley Lowery

Football royalty turned out in force to support the inaugural charity ball in memory of hero youngster Bradley Lowery.

Walking the red carpet at the Newcastle Gateshead Hilton Hotel was late Bradley’s ‘best friend’, former Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe.

Jermaine Defoe arrives with his partner at a gala ball to celebrate the launch of the Bradley Lowery Foundation, held at the Hilton, Gateshead. Picture by Tom Banks

Jermaine Defoe arrives with his partner at a gala ball to celebrate the launch of the Bradley Lowery Foundation, held at the Hilton, Gateshead. Picture by Tom Banks

Rubbing shoulders with Jermain and among 300 guests were other sporting stars, including John O’Shea, Steve Harper, Chris Coleman and many more.

The event raised funds for the Bradley Lowery Foundation and Sunderland AFC’s For Bradley campaign.

Six-year-old Bradley, from Blackhall, who lost his fight against neuroblastoma last summer, stole the hearts of the world with his bravery.

The foundation, which has been set up in Bradley’s name, offers support, advice and encouragement to families undertaking their own fundraising campaigns to fund children’s medical treatment and equipment.

It means Bradley’s legacy is living on and is so important to me as a mum, that everyone is still thinking about my little boy

Gemma Lowery

Sunderland AFC, meanwhile, launched the For Bradley campaign last November. It aims to create a holiday home, Bradley’s Place, to give families an opportunity to spend time together.

Sunday’s glittering ball saw Ray Quinn perform a set after stepping in to replace X Factor star Che Chesterman, who cancelled at the last minute.

Bradley’s mum Gemma said: “I’m happy that we are here, but it’s been very stressful.

“It’s all about having fun and raising awareness about the foundation.

Gemma Lowery at a gala ball to celebrate the launch of the Bradley Lowery Foundation, held at the Hilton, Gateshead.'Picture by Tom Banks

Gemma Lowery at a gala ball to celebrate the launch of the Bradley Lowery Foundation, held at the Hilton, Gateshead.'Picture by Tom Banks

“It’s been very, very emotional. It’s our first gala ball and I wanted everything to be perfect.

“Bradley was so much in the public eye, so we have to keep up that reputation.

“It’s quite intimidating, but I know I can do it.

“The support has been absolutely phenomenal. We have people here from Everton, Middlesbrough, Sunderland and Newcastle and the Football Writers’ Association as well as members of the community coming together.

Chris Coleman and his partner arrive at a gala ball to celebrate the launch of the Bradley Lowery Foundation, held at the Hilton, Gateshead.'Picture by Tom Banks

Chris Coleman and his partner arrive at a gala ball to celebrate the launch of the Bradley Lowery Foundation, held at the Hilton, Gateshead.'Picture by Tom Banks

“It means Bradley’s legacy is living on and is so important to me as a mum, that everyone is still thinking about my little boy.

“I’m so proud of him and so proud of the foundation and everyone for their support.”

Gemma added that she has met with an architect to discuss plans for holiday home Bradley’s Place.

John O'Shea arrives at a gala ball to celebrate the launch of the Bradley Lowery Foundation, held at the Hilton, Gateshead.'Picture by Tom Banks

John O'Shea arrives at a gala ball to celebrate the launch of the Bradley Lowery Foundation, held at the Hilton, Gateshead.'Picture by Tom Banks

Steve Harper arrives at a gala ball to celebrate the launch of the Bradley Lowery Foundation, held at the Hilton, Gateshead.'Picture by Tom Banks

Steve Harper arrives at a gala ball to celebrate the launch of the Bradley Lowery Foundation, held at the Hilton, Gateshead.'Picture by Tom Banks