HEWORTH Cricket Club challenged stars of the small screen to a charity match to raise funds for Yorkshire’s very own helicopter heroes.

York Theatre Royal panto star and club member Martin Barrass led his team, All Star XI, against Emmerdale All Star XI, headed by Chris Chittell who plays Eric Pollard in the ITV soap.

But the start of the game on Sunday was delayed slightly by the special appearance of the Yorkshire Air Ambulance which landed on the pitch on Elm Park Way to the delight of applauding onlookers.

It was a poignant moment for Martin whose life was saved by the airborne paramedics after a near fatal motorbike accident.

“I am in bits,” he said. “ I feel really emotional because these guys saved my life. I wouldn’t be here without this wonderful £4 million worth of machinery.”

Speaking about his remarkable recovery, Martin who joined Heworth Cricket Club in 2015, said : “ I am going to the gym three times a week because I think every day I have is a blessing. I didn’t always think exactly like that.”

Soap fans queued up to have their photos taken with Martin, who himself acted in Emmerdale in the 1980s, along with the current stars who turned out to support the event including Nicola Wheeler who plays Nicola King, as well as the air ambulance crew.

Andrew Lister, director of aviation with the YAA, which attends a limited number of charity events annually to promote its work, told The Press: “These events are hugely important. They are an important opportunity for the fundraisers who do all the hard work to really integrate with the crew and for members of the public to see what we do.”

Once the helicopter had flown off, the match began involving current and past members of the club, including professional cricketer Jack Leaning, who now plays for Yorkshire County Cricket Club. He was joined on the team by his dad, former professional footballer and York City goalkeeper Andy Leaning.

The match ended in ‘an honourable tie’.

As thanks for their cooperation, local residents were given free entry to the event which also included a raffle, tombola, ale and gin bar, a visit by a North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue crew, and live music.