Sparks

Sparks: Children's Medical Research Charity

Sir Geoff was appointed President of Sparks back in 2010 to support the charity's endeavours to fund research into childhood medical conditions.

"I was delighted to be appointed Sparks president," Sir Geoff commented. "Sparks aim has always been to help more babies to be born healthy, more children grow up healthy and it's hard to think of a better goal than that. It was an honour and I hope I have helped the charity in some small way to achieve their goals."

Today, Sparks is fully merged into the Great Ormand Street Hospital Charity but was originally founded in 1960 by the charity fundraiser, Duncan Guthrie, who had been inspired to raise money for medical research after his own daughter, Janet, contracted poliomyelitis.

Guthrie enlisted the help of some of the leading sports personalities of the day, including star footballer Jimmy Hill and cricket legend Jim Laker, to help raise funds for much needed research into childhood diseases. The aim was to give all children the chance to live a full and active life - just like their sporting heroes.

Sir Geoff has attended numerous events resulting in a great fundraising record, over £400,000 raised in his year as President. The money benefited the thousands of children in need but, for Geoff, one abiding memory will always be a tiny baby called Riley Joyce.

After suffering oxygen starvation during birth, Riley was delivered by emergency C-section, but without a pulse and the ability to breathe independently. He was given only a 50/50 chance of surviving without permanent brain damage.

But thanks to an historic intervention using a combination of full body cooling and a rare gas called Xenon, Riley Joyce not only survived but thrived. His parents, David and Sarah, are now looking forward to him growing up as a perfectly normal child.

"Meeting Riley and his parents at their home in Bath and also meeting Sparks-funded cooling pioneer, Professor Marianne Thoresen, and her Bristol-based team was a very special experience." said Sir Geoff. "Journalists often ask me if anything can beat scoring the winner in a World Cup Final, I've told them that helping children to be born healthy and grow up healthy does. Baby Riley and the joy on his parents' faces when they took him home, healthy and happy, is the living proof."






Sir Geoff Hurst

Sir Geoff Hurst MBE secured a unique place in the history of football in 1966 when he became the first and, over 55 years later, still the only player to score a hat-trick in a World Cup Final.

Knighted in 1998 and inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2004, Sir Geoff holds a special place in the hearts of football fans across the world and, perhaps surprisingly, this includes Germany!