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Clare Balding presents prizes as thousands raised for St Michael's Hospice in tennis tournament

More than a hundred children took part in a tennis tournament in Kingsclere to raise thousands of pounds for a palliative care hospice.

Families, businesses, schools and pubs came together for the tournament, originally known as the Mattingley Tennis Tournament, with 12 local residents who own a tennis court putting them forward for a round robin-style competition in aid of St Michael’s Hospice.

Ten children played mixed doubles on each court, with the boy and girl with the most points on each court presented with trophies by broadcaster Clare Balding in a post-tournament party at Park House Stables.

Clare Balding with the winners (58231916)
Clare Balding with the winners (58231916)

The event was sponsored by Hampshire builders R.W.Armstrong, Kingsclere pub the Bel and Dragon provided the balls, Cheam School provided the cakes for tea and Honesty Café in Swan Street provided all the court hosts with a box of brownies as a thank you.

On the committee of the tournament was Anna Lisa Balding, whose father David Williams spent time in the hospice before he died.

She said she got involved because her father had been “beautifully well looked after”, adding she felt “it was a lovely way of getting involved and helping people to give back”.

Clare Balding with two of the winners (58231920)
Clare Balding with two of the winners (58231920)

Mrs Balding, wife of racehorse trainer Andrew Balding, said: “He had motor neurone disease and we needed a bit of respite, because my mother wasn’t well as well, and St Michael’s Hospice did the most amazing job looking after him.”

On the tournament, she said: “It was a real local event.

“Having had Covid and not be able to do it properly last year, it was lovely to be able to get back and really raise some good funds.”

More than 100 children took part (58231918)
More than 100 children took part (58231918)

Around £5,000 was raised through entry fees and sponsorship for the hospice, which provides palliative care for people across North Hampshire.

Mrs Balding said the event was an opportunity for children to get out, “off their computers, play tennis and meet people the same age from different schools”.

She continued: “It was lovely to have Clare come down having just finished Wimbledon.

Clare Balding with one of the winners (58231914)
Clare Balding with one of the winners (58231914)

“She went from one tennis tournament to another.

“They were all delighted, and Clare is very good with them and very good at posing with all the winners and gave them all a memorable photo."

Director of income generation Lorraine Pink said: "Without the support of events like these, we would not be able to care for our patients.

"Eight out every ten patients we see is funded from the generosity of our local community and we are extremely grateful to them for their continued support.

"This donation of £4,000 will fund 16 full days of vital nursing care for our patients, making a difference to them and their families.”

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