Mark de Vries and other Tynecastle legends return to Gorgie to help Big Hearts double their fundraising total

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Former players were back in Edinburgh as their old club’s charity generated thousands of pounds.

Mark de Vries was one of three iconic former Hearts players returning to Tynecastle Park on Saturday for the Big Hearts Gala. Along with Paul Hartley and Darren Barr, he helped raise £21,115 for the Edinburgh club’s official charity which benefits the local Gorgie community.

The total amount was more than double that raised last year and set a new record for Big Hearts on one of the biggest days on their calendar. In addition to funds from more than 250 tickets sold, there were live and silent auctions for prizes including signed Hearts shirts, golf days and hotel stays.

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De Vries is best remembered for four scoring four times on his Tynecastle debut as Hearts beat Hibs 5-1 in 2002. “It has been great to be back in Edinburgh and back at Tynecastle,” he said. “I loved my time here so it has been an honour to come back as a guest of Big Hearts. I have been made to feel so welcome and it has been amazing to learn about the work of Big Hearts.”

Hartley, now managing Scottish League One side Cove Rangers, won the 2006 Scottish Cup with Hearts and helped them reach the Champions League qualifying rounds. Barr also won the Scottish Cup with the Edinburgh club in 2012, scoring the opening goal in the 5-1 rout against Hibs in the final at Hampden Park.

Supporters attending the Gala got to meet all three heroes from bygone years and listened to their tales as guest speakers. “I am too young to have seen Mark de Vries play, but I was lucky enough to see Paul Hartley play,” said Hearts fan Brian Chapman. “It was a really good moment to get a picture with him and actually see him in-front of my own eyes.

“I took part in the Hampden to Tynecastle charity walk and, along with three friends, raised £2500 for Big Hearts. I am here tonight to continue to show support after that. The charity does a lot of good work, and as we’ve heard tonight, poverty in Gorgie is among the highest in Edinburgh.”

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Guests at the event got a valuable insight into Big Hearts’ work across the local community. They learned about the “That’s Me!” group, which aims to make a positive impact on teenagers and young adults aged 12 to 18 who could benefit from wellbeing support.

Mark de Vries and Paul Hartley with host Scott Wilson at the Big Hearts Gala. Pic: Tommy LeeMark de Vries and Paul Hartley with host Scott Wilson at the Big Hearts Gala. Pic: Tommy Lee
Mark de Vries and Paul Hartley with host Scott Wilson at the Big Hearts Gala. Pic: Tommy Lee

“We are over the moon to have raised £21,115 at the Big Hearts Gala this year,” said Craig Wilson, Big Hearts CEO. “It is one of our biggest fundraising efforts and I’m grateful to everyone who bought tickets and took part in our auctions. The money raised will go a long way in our mission to help improve the lives of people in our community.”

Big Hearts is the only non-profit organisation based at the home of Heart of Midlothian FC. The charity delivers free activities for adults and children to improve outcomes around mental health, social isolation and promote equal opportunities.

It costs Big Hearts over £600,000 each year to build and deliver programmes and services to the communities living in the surroundings of Tynecastle, which is one of the most disadvantaged wards of Edinburgh.