THE soles of people's shoes were not the only things burning at this annual fund-raising extravaganza - the holes in people's pockets were feeling the heat too.

Guests at the Saints Wessex Heartbeat Fire Ball proved only too happy to part with their cash for the charity that works to improve cardiac care at Southampton General Hospital.

The fire-themed event, sponsored by Peter Cooper Volkswagen and South-ampton Football Club, is the highlight of the Wessex Heartbeat fundraising year and proved to be a roaring success.

About 270 guests enjoyed a four-course meal and dancing in the Mike Channon suite at St Mary's football stadium and are believed to have raised more than £40,000.

An award ceremony for winners of the charity's annual golf tournament saw teams from Parkhouse and Wyatt, Norwich Union Health Care and Russ Berrie congratulated for their putting prowess.

A dazzling array of items for auction included a ruby necklace, which raised £1,300, and more unusually, a piece of vital medical equipment.

The fibreglass baby pod - that sold for £8,000 to a consortium - was auctioned for use at the General Hospital where it will provide the perfect carry case for babies suffering cardiac problems.

The vast sum raised for the baby pod far exceeded organisers' expectations and therefore will help to buy a ventilator to accompany it.

Wessex Heartbeat event manager Sara-Jane Tyrrell said: "I am absolutely delighted. It is the third time we have held this event and it is a tremendous event. We are very grateful to Saints and Peter Cooper without whom it would not have been possible."