Celebrity watch

This week BBC commentator Alastair Hignell and his Cambridge chums run the London Marathon for Multiple Sclerosos, a British basketball player donates $50 to the UN's refugee agency for every basket he scores and former footballer John Barnes attends a football tournament for prostate cancer.

Alastair Hignell
Alastair Hignell

Alastair Hignell, the BBC Radio 5 Live commentator and former England rugby international, has arranged for a team of colleagues and contemporaries from his Cambridge University days to run the London Marathon this April in aid of the Multiple Sclerosis Resource Centre.

Hignell was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1999 and now campaigns to raise awareness of the illness as patron of the MSRC.

The 13-strong team of 'Higgy's Heroes' played rugby or cricket for Cambridge alongside Hignell, against him for Oxford or were university friends.

"To meet up with all the old boys from Cambridge and hopefully raise thousands of pounds for the MSRC sounds like an ideal day to me," says Hignell.

Helen Yates, chief executive of the MSRC, says: "Alastair does a fantastic job for us as patron and I'm sure everyone involved in the run will have a thoroughly enjoyable time - after the race, if not during it."

Luol Deng, the British basketball star and Chicago Bulls forward, has pledged to donate $50 (£26) to ninemillion.org, the UN Refugee Agency's campaign to support young refugees in sport and education, for every basket he scores in the NBA this season.

Based on last season's statistics, Deng could donate more than $24,000 (£12,370) to the charity.

Deng's donation will help provide education and schools for children in the south of Sudan, the country where he was born and from where he fled civil war before being granted asylum in the UK in 1988.

"Twenty years of war in south Sudan has destroyed so much," says Deng. "But now thousands of people are returning to their homes and communities."

The UNHCR estimates there are about nine million refugee children around the world. Its work in Sudan is supporting the voluntary return and reintegration of 80,000 Sudanese refugees.

Former Liverpool and England footballer John Barnes will attend the Prostate Cancer Charity's Real Man Cup football tournament on 8 March. The tournament, which is open to amateur teams and is set to raise £10,000 for the charity, is being staged to raise awareness of Prostate Cancer Awareness Week, which runs from 10 to 16 March. "The money raised will help thousands of men with prostate cancer and their families," says Barnes.

Actor Kellie Shirley, who played Carly Wicks in EastEnders, and investigative journalist Donal McIntyre are calling on runners across the country to join them in a 10km race through the streets of London on 26 May in aid of learning disability charity Mencap. The race will follow part of the same course as the marathon for the London 2012 Olympic Games. "By wearing your Mencap vest, you will be helping Mencap to challenge attitudes and prejudice towards people with learning disabilities," says Shirley.

Sarah Harding, part of girl band Girls Aloud, has donated a box of designer outfits to her local Oxfam shop. The singer took a box of clothes, including a silver jacket with 'Girls Aloud' emblazoned on the back, to the store in West Hampstead, north London.

Annie Lennox, the pop star and former lead singer of the Eurythmics, has made an undisclosed donation to the Cyrenians, an Aberdeen-based homelessness charity. "The work of the Cyrenians is invaluable," says Lennox. "Thousands of people in the north east of Scotland who have experienced difficult periods in their lives have been helped by the charity, and this is something that we should all be very proud of."

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