UK
02/09/2017 17:40 BST

Showbiz And Soccer Stars Team Up For Game4Grenfell

Two cultures collided in the shadow of Grenfell Tower as stars from the worlds of showbiz and soccer teamed up to raise funds for people hit by the tragedy.

The Game4Grenfell at QPR’s Loftus Road stadium, just a mile from the tower, kicked off before a sell-out crowd.

Among those taking part was Homeland actor Damian Lewis, who told the Press Association: “I grew up very close to here and play football in the shadow of the tower every week, and have done for 25 years.

“We hope today will be a healing and festive occasion. It’s important to let them know we haven’t forgotten.

“I’m in the midfield engine with Mo Farah – he’s certainly going to do the tracking back.”

Comedian Jack Whitehall, nursing an injured arm, insisted he would still play.

He said: “I think they want me to go up against Jamie Redknapp. It’s kind of unfair but they think it will be funny.

“Today is an amazing cause, a thing that everybody wanted to get involved in. It’s wonderful and I’m really pleased to be a part of it.”

Whitehall hinted the game would hold “some surprises”.

The stadium, which houses some 20,000, erupted in cheers as the likes of Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho, singer Olly Murs and former England goalkeeper David Seaman ran onto the pitch.

All ticket money is going to the Evening Standard’s fund for those touched by the tragedy, which claimed at least 80 lives in June.

Around 2,000 complimentary tickets were given to those directly affected, including residents, relatives of the victims, volunteers and members of the emergency services.

Chris Sutton, Damian Lewis and Jamie Redknapp
Team Ferdinand’s Damian Lewis (centre) goes past Team Shearer’s Chris Sutton and Jamie Redknapp (right) (Victoria Jones/PA)

Sir Mo Farah
Sir Mo Farah (second left) is mobbed after opening the scoring for Team Ferdinand (Victoria Jones/PA)

Football presenter Chris Kamara said: “For everybody involved, it’s just a way of giving something back.

“For the club to do this for the community is amazing.”

The teams were led by former England strikers Alan Shearer and Les Ferdinand.

Ferdinand, who grew up in the area, played football with Grenfell survivor Nicholas Burton as a youngster.

Mr Burton, who escaped from the 19th floor of the burning building, told the Press Association: “We’ve got a lot of old, tragic memories, today’s about making new ones.

“All the families are sitting together. We’ve come together and it’s very important we stay as a family. We’re a family now.”

Mr Burton, 50, laid a wreath before the game, saying it was “about remembering the people who have passed”.

He said: “It was very poignant just before the minute’s silence. That really brings it down to earth.

“I just feel grateful and blessed to be here. I lived there for 33 years, when you see the dark, ghostly shell it does bring a sadness in your heart.”