SPORTING heroes gathered at a top Southampton hotel for the highlight of the fundraising year for city-based charity Leukaemia Busters.

Former England cricket star David Gower and Premiership football manager Harry Redknapp were among the stars at the glittering bash at De Vere Grand Harbour Hotel.

The dinner was in aid of the charity's millennium appeal. It raised £35,000 and was attended by nearly 300 guests.

Leukaemia Busters - spearheaded by husband and wife team David and Bee Flavell - is aiming to raise £1 million by the end of this year to help fund crucial clinical trials of a revolutionary drug treatment in more than 12 children's cancer centres throughout the UK.

The magic bullet-type drug has been developed and researched by Leukaemia Busters-funded scientists in their laboratories at the charity's HQ at Southampton General Hospital.

Guests tucked into a delicious four-course meal followed by a charity auction and dancing to Abba tribute band Eternal Flame.

Capital Radio DJ Mike Osman, who lives in Southampton, was the MC.

Scores of weird and wonderful prizes were up for grabs in the silent auction. There was a trip in an armoured tank, a tour of the BBC Radio and TV studios in Southampton and a day at Sandown Park races.

Fundraising chiefs Linda Ellis and Deborah Edgington said: "It's been an absolutely fantastic evening. We've beaten last year's total by £4,000 and we're so grateful to everyone who has supported Leukaemia Busters tonight."

Also under the hammer in the auction conducted by Roger Townsend, were other exclusive prizes including tickets for the filming of They Think It's All Over starring Leukaemia Busters' patron Gary Lineker and a signed Michael Owen England shirt.

Mr Lineker and his wife Michelle, were unable to attend as they had on previous occasions, but sent their apologies.

Lunch for six at Anouska Hempel's award-winning Blakes Hotel, Polo lessons at the glorious Ascot Park Club and a trip in the Ocean FM Flying Eye helicopter were also on the table for the highest bidder.

David Gower got involved with the charity because his daughter attends the same school as Dr Flavell's children.

He said: "The things that seem to occupy my professional life, They Think It's All Over and watching cricket for a living, all seem trivial compared to all the time and effort that all those at Leukaemia Busters put in for a cause that will always be special.

"The whole concept of what David and Bee Flavell are striving to achieve is extraordinary and wonderful."

West Ham United manager Harry Redknapp said: "I'm keep my fingers crossed that this is one step nearer to finding a cure for children who still suffer from this dreadful disease."

As the evening drew to a close, doctors David and Bee Flavell thanked everyone for making the third summer ball such a success.

Converted for the new archive on 25 January 2001. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.