Malaysia plane crash: Charities chosen for tribute cash

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More than £22,000, raised by football fans in memory of two Newcastle supporters who died in an aeroplane crash in Ukraine, is to go to two cancer charities.

Sunderland AFC fans set up an online page to raise £100 for a floral tribute to John Alder and Liam Sweeney.

But donations quickly snowballed, with the total now in the thousands.

The fan behind the fundraising said a large amount of the cash would go to two charities supported by the two men.

Mr Alder, in his 60s, and Mr Sweeney, 28, were travelling to New Zealand to see Newcastle play in a pre-season tour of New Zealand, when their Malaysia Airlines flight came down on Thursday.

Mr Alder’s niece, Karen Robins, got in touch with Newcastle United to thank fans for their support.

In a statement, the family said: “We would like to thank everyone for their thoughts and wishes and incredibly generous gestures, particularly those who have been able to share personal memories of John.

“We are struggling to comprehend what has happened but we are touched and moved by your kind words, acts and the knowledge that so many people saw John for who he was, a kind, courteous man who was much loved as a son, brother, uncle and fan.”

Sunderland fan Gary Ferguson started gathering donations on the fundraising website gofundme late on Friday after seeing tributes being posted on a Sunderland fans’ message board.

His initial intention was for people to “put a fiver in each” in the hope of getting £100 for a floral tribute to take to their rival’s ground St James’ Park.

Cancer charities

Mr Ferguson said: “I’ve been initially in contact through an intermediary with the family.

“We wanted to try and keep it simple, I think is their thoughts, because obviously, because of the amount of money, it’s getting a bit daft.”

He said two charities had been identified which would probably get “a large share” of the money, one of which Mr Alder supported and the other of which Mr Sweeney supported.

One is the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, a locally based cancer research charity set up by the former Newcastle manager.

The other charity is Marie Curie Cancer Care, which has a hospice in Newcastle.

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