BORO legends joined hundreds of Teessiders last night to show their support for “one of our own” Gary Parkinson.
Middlesbrough manager Tony Mowbray said he felt “humbled” to be at the fundraising dinner for Parky, who suffered a major stroke last year.
Yarm’s Tall Trees was packed with a thousand people who all helped raise much-needed funds for Gary and his family.
A moving statement from Parky was projected on to a wall on the night. He communicated it to his wife Deborah using his eyes.
It said: “Thank you for turning up on my behalf. In 1986 you gave me an unbelievable will to win. Also to those who are supporters thank you for your support and loyalty. Parky.”
The Thornaby-born defender is currently recovering at The Priory Highbank Centre, in Greater Manchester.
Doctors have diagnosed him with locked-in syndrome - which leaves sufferers unable to move, speak or swallow, due to paralysis of the muscles.
All of Gary’s team-mates from the legendary 1986 team were at the event.
Mowbray told the Gazette last night: “It is amazing to see so many people here. For the cause that we are here for, I feel humbled to be a part of it. Obviously I played with Parky and he has always been regarded as one of our own and the turnout tonight proves that.
“The team of 1986 was something special.
“I saw Gary recently and he was communicating with me using his eye lids. The thing about Gary is he has a great personality and you can still see that. That is very much a positive.”
Gary’s family, including Deborah, son Luke and daughter Chloe, 14, were at the event.
Luke, 17, who also has a younger sister Sophie, aged seven, said: “We can’t really believe how many people are here. Dad would be really touched by it. It’s funny because he always told us he had no mates - well when you look round this room it proves that he did.
“I’m pleased to have met all his team-mates. They have been really nice and supportive. We have taken some pictures for dad which he will love to see.”
Organiser and member of the ‘86 team, Bernie Slaven, said: “All the 1986 team are here. They all wanted to come. Gary Hamilton has come from America. They all wanted to show their support.”
Among the fundraising events on the night was a special raffle to win the use of a sports car for a weekend. Amy Gray was the delighted winner of the prize.
Also in attendance last night was musician and Boro fan Alistair Griffin, who performed a few songs to entertain the guests.
On Sunday celebrities, sports stars and Boro legends will play in a benefit match in aid of Parky at the Riverside Stadium.
Mowbray added: “The fans sing about people being ‘one of their own’, well Gary Parkinson is very much one of their own. I would love to think that many fans are bitten by the nostalgic bug and come along for Sunday’s game.”