An inspirational Southport man welcomed football legends from Liverpool FC and Everton FC as he took funds raised in memory of his late wife past an incredible £60,000.
Neil Gokcen, who co-owns the award-winning Birkdale Kitchen Co. in Birkdale Village in Southport, hosted the successful Sportsman’s Dinner at the stylish Auberge restaurant on Seabank Road in Southport town centre.
He was joined by some of the top stars to have graced Anfield and Goodison Park including: Sir Kenny Dalglish (Liverpool FC), Steve McMahon (Liverpool FC and Everton FC), Ian Snodin (Everton FC) and Graham Stuart (Everton FC).
All of the funds raised – Neil is currently at £60,706 – will go towards supporting people via the The Larks / Marina Dalglish Appeal, smashing the original £50,000 target.
His fundraising doesn’t stop there – along with family members and close friends, they are steeling themselves for a daring skydiving jump this Saturday (8th october 2022)!
People are invited to support Neil Gokcen’s appeal via his JustGiving page here.
The fundraising drive is being inspired by Neil’s beloved wife, Catherine, who tragically died peacefully at home on 3rd June 2022, at just 48 years old, surrounded by her closest family.
Neil said: “She carried herself with the utmost dignity throughout everything she experienced and is a great inspiration to many. A world without her is something we would never want to imagine, but now that is our tragic reality. She was truly the best.”
Thanking everyone who supported his latest event in Southport, he said: “We had the pleasure and honour of having our Sportsman’s evening at the fabulous Auberge Brasserie to raise more funds towards our £50,000 target for The Larks / Marina Dalglish Appeal before we jump out of a plane this Saturday!
“I can’t thank Stephen McMahon and Julie McMahon enough for all of their support with our mission, as well as Sir Kenny Dalglish, Ian Snodin, Graham Stuart and the brilliant Sean Styles and John Nelson too for all of their contributions and stories on the night.
“For anyone who hasn’t yet seen the JustGiving page and story about why we’re doing all of this, then click the link here.
“Thanks in advance for any contributions.”
This Saturday, Neil will be among nine family and friends aiming to complete a skydive from 15,000ft.
They will be taking on the challenge over Lancaster in Lancashire on 8th October 2022, the day before what would have been Catherine Gokcen’s 49th birthday.
Three years ago Catherine was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, which came as a huge shock to all those close to her.
Initially contracting breast cancer, it then spread to other areas of her body. In June last year Catherine underwent an emergency operation at the Walton Centre in Liverpool where she narrowly avoided paralysis thanks to the skill and determination of the surgeons.
The fundraisers are now determined to raise as much money as they can for the LARKS Marina Dalglish Appeal, a charity organisation for women living with breast cancer.
Services provided there include counselling, reiki, reflexology and treatments that are used to help and ease the side effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Additionally, hair and nail treatments are offered, along with an opportunity to share experiences with women in similar situations.
The skydiving daredevils including Catherine’s husband, Neil; their children Eve and Tom; plus Lisa Forth; Sarah, Will and Matt Barwell; Ryyan Winter; and Stephen Dunne, who is Neil’s business partner as they co-own Birkdale Kitchen Co. in Birkdale in Southport.
Neil Gokcen said: “We’re excited – and also petrified! – to launch our skydive for the LARKS Marina Dalglish Appeal, because every penny counts for this great cancer charity.
“We’re a group of nine 18 to 56-year-olds asking for everyone’s support to raise money for a very special lady and an amazing cancer charity that’s close to her heart; Liverpool-based LARKS, which is part of the Marina Dalglish Appeal.
“The cause is such that I can’t wait to do the skydive because it is so personal to us as a family and what we are raising money for is so important.”
The nine skydivers want people to help them to raise funds for their chosen charity because Catherine was a part of LARKS, a subgroup of the fantastic Marina Dalglish Centre based in Liverpool, since 2019.
The Marina Dalglish Appeal was set up by the Dalglish family in 2005 after Marina, who lives in Southport with husband Sir Kenny Dalglish, was successfully treated for breast cancer in 2003. The charity has one aim “to make a difference” to cancer patients and their families across Merseyside.
In 2016 the breast cancer support centre LARKS was opened in the heart of Liverpool. Marina Dalglish hoped it would benefit ladies who were able to visit by offering holistic and beauty therapy, counselling, and friendship; however, the bond between the “Larkettes” and the caring atmosphere they have created has surpassed her wildest expectations.
- To support the appeal, please visit the page ‘Our Skydive for Catherine and the Larks’ on the JustGiving website.