Julie and Phil Neville support Royal Manchester Children's Hospital
PUBLISHED: 11:29 09 August 2011 | UPDATED: 19:50 20 February 2013
Julie Neville tells Sam Bradley how she turned personal heartbreak into much needed support for a local charity
Julie Neville isnt your stereotypical bag-obsessed WAG though she shows a huge amount of fashion-savvy, clearly evident than when we caught up with her at a star-studded event at Manchesters swanky Hilton hotel.
This wasnt a red-carpet party or film premiere - it was a fundraiser for one of the most dynamic charities in the country, the Royal Manchester Childrens Hospital which raises funds for continued research, more equipment and better care for thousands of children every year.
Julie together with husband, Manchester Uniteds Phil Neville is one of the RMCHCs most active campaigners and this was a project close to her heart.
It was a childrens fashion show featuring designer clothing from Selfridges, compared by none other than Coronation Streets Kym Marsh, and awash with performances from Britains Got Talent runner-up Razy Gogonea, former X Factor contestants Same Difference, new girl-band Fanfare and CBBCs Aidan Davis.
But arguably the biggest stars there were the Nevilles two children Isobel and Harvey, who took to the catwalk in aid of the fundraiser.
Julie and Phil Nevilles second child, Isobel, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy after being born prematurely. Since then, the Nevilles have taken an active role in advancing the charitys cause, and have raised an astonishing 20m.
I say to everyone that the charity actually saved me, reveals Julie.
I got involved with it at a time when Isobel had just been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, and it gave me something to channel all our hurt and upset into. Then we realised that we were in a position to make a huge difference and so we became much more involved, but it was definitely a turning point for me when I got involved.
Cerebral palsy is such a wide- ranging condition that there really is no cure for it, and it really is a case of working at it for the rest of our daughters life. You dont know whats round the corner, and every child shows different symptoms so for us we always try to remain positive.
Isobel helps us do that, shes a really determined and positive little girl and shes very bright and happy and content, so as long as we keep her that way, happy and content, well pull through fine. I wont pretend it hasnt been hard it is but I think that every day, weve been blessed with this amazing child.
This charity makes a huge difference to so many children and their families; it provides so many support networks. Weve been improving hospitals to make them more child friendly, buying state-of-the-art equipment, weve been able to put in parental accommodation and these things make unbearable situations almost bearable.
On offer at the auction were tickets to the Charity Shield at Wembley (the opening game of the English football season) between Man City and Man United, tickets to the live X Factor finals and the live auditions, a signed shirt from Man United striker Javier Hernandez and a signed Phil Neville shirt as well as a pair of the Everton captains boots.
The event also included fairground stalls and a bouncy castle, and a sweet shop. Julie told me how she and the charity collaborated to produce the event.
Well it was a brainstorm with our appeal team; were always looking for ways to do different events, because you cant ask people to donate to the same things or to pay to come to the same things.
We wanted to involve the children because its a childrens charity, so we got our children involved and between us all we came up with the idea of a fashion show and then we always hire this room [in the Hilton] for our childrens birthday parties so we decided to use that; so weve ended up with this fashion show and a family fun day.
Adds Kym Marsh Ive got children so its very close to my heart in that respect, Im just delighted to do it. Id gladly be involved with them again.
The event eventually raised around 16,000 on the day but this is a drop in the ocean as the charity currently needs an estimated 7 million to continue its work each year. Lucky for them they have the Nevilles on board.