A group of franchise professionals have battled against a celebrity football team to raise thousands of pounds for charity.

The match was organised by Nigel Toplis, Managing Director of Recognition Express, and involved a team of top businessmen from the franchise industry playing against the star studded Once Upon a Smile FC celebrity team.

Just over £6,000 was raised by the event and has been divided equally between the two charities, WellChild and Once Upon a Smile.

WellChild helps sick and seriously ill children and their families across the country through research, care and support and Once Upon a Smile offers respite breaks following an immediate family bereavement.

In the first half Franchise X1 led the game 4-0, but the second half saw the celebrity team pick up the pace and pull back some goals. The final 15 minutes the competition further intensified, with the help of a thunderstorm, bringing the score to a 6-6 draw. Recognition Express then successfully won the match 4-2 in a penalty shoot out.

The celebrity team was made up of stars from Eastenders, Emmerdale, Hollyoaks and Waterloo Road, including Matt Lapinskas, Tony Discipline, Danny Miller, Anthony Quinlan and Will Rush.

After the game Miller said: “It was a fantastic game and everyone really enjoyed it. Both teams were very competitive and we were impressed by the standard of football played by the opposition. At the end of the day though the most important winners were the charities and we are very grateful to everyone who supported us so generously.”

Toplis added: “Of course the best side won as we knew it would! Joking aside we would like to thank the celebrity team for taking time out of their busy schedules and everyone who worked so hard to make the day such a success. Also, a big thank you to all those who attended and donated in support of two great causes.”

Toplis has been supporting the work of WellChild for a decade and has personally helped to raise a £44,500 for the appeal. His exploits have included a grueling bike ride in Cuba and a successful attempt to reach the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro. In March next year, he will be taking on the nine-day challenge of walking the Sahara to raise a further £5,000 for the charity.

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