A snooker star who suffers from a rare form of cancer is giving his backing to a new charity which will be launched with a major fund-raising event in Ilkley.

Paul Hunter, who is currently undergoing a second bout of chemotherapy for a rare, slow-growing hormonal cancer, gave £15,000 of his own cash to kick-start the charity which will officially be launched on a Big Night Out ball at Ilkley Lido on Saturday, September 16.

The former three-times Benson and Hedges champion,who once trained in Yeadon and Guiseley and last year ranked fourth in the world, was on Ilkley Moor on Tuesday to promote the Big Night Out with its organisers a group of five fund raising friends from the town.

One of its organisers, Cathy Douglas, is a friend of Hunter's wife, Lindsey, who ran the Leeds Half Marathon at the weekend and helped raise £2,000 for the new charity The NET Patient Foundation incorporating Living with Carcinoid.

Hunter, who practised at the former Manor Health Club in Yeadon and then Guiseley Conservative Club until four years ago, has just revealed plans to take a year off from snooker and is waiting to hear from officials if his current world ranking can be frozen until he gets back on form.

Doctors have said there are too many of the neuroendocrine hormonal tumours to operate on and are hoping the new cocktail of drugs will help shrink them.

"I've been so lucky in my life in what I have achieved that I had a feeling I would be in for some bad luck. For some bizarre reason I sensed it and knew I'd be one of one in three people who get cancer, like it says on the TV ad, " he said.

But the dad-of-one is determined to keep smiling and said he would be at The Big Night Out along with other sporting stars who have pledged to be there including tennis's Tim Henman and England cricketer Darren Gough.

Mrs Douglas, 34, of Ilkley, said the 450-seat marquee event at the Lido would be a poignant night for Hunter because he is fighting the kind of cancer the ball is raising awareness and cash for.

Mrs Douglas, whose first-ever job was at the Lido, has teamed up with four good friends calling themselves Moor-Fizz to make The Big Night Out become Ilkley's glitziest most glamorous ball ever.

Tickets are already selling in advance for £110 each or £1,000 for a table of ten.

Mrs Douglas met Paul Hunter, when he was an amateur player and trained at a Yeadon health club where she once worked. When she heard of his plight she got in touch with his wife, who was one of her friends.

She said: "I had been looking for a worthy cause for the ball when I heard about Paul's cancer. I got in touch to find out if they were supporting a charity and they told me it was such a rare form of the disease they were involved with some people trying to set up a national charity to tell more people about it."

Now the Big Night Out will be the official launch-pad for the NET Patient Foundation incorporating Living With Carcinoid.

Hunter, 27, was finally diagnosed with the rare, slow-progressing Neuroendocrine tumours two years ago. At first doctors first thought he had bowel cancer but more tests eventually showed up tumours in his intestines.

Neuroendocrine tumours are hormonal tumours which can grow anywhere in the body, developing from cells that line the gut.

Despite chemotherapy numbing his hands and feet, Hunter has refused to give up his sport and took part in this year's World Championships in Sheffield but lost in the first round.

Before the cancer struck, he had won several major titles including the Masters in 2001 and 2002 plus a third Masters in 2004.

Plans for The Big Night Out are coming together, kicking-off with a champagne reception and an auction included in the line-up.

"Tim Henman has already promised us an incredible pledge to go under the hammer but we're keeping it under wraps until nearer the time, along with lots more surprises on the night," said Mrs Douglas who now works as a health care manager.

She added: "I've always wanted to do something big at The Lido. Even when I was a 17-year-old lifeguard there I used to let my mind wander to imagine what a ball would be like now I'm finally doing it for real.

"We're going to make it a night that Ilkley will never forget. The last one like that was a Jimi Hendrix concert in the Sixties."

To find out more about The Big Night out call 07818 012275 or 07932 690226. All proceeds will go to the NET Patient Foundation incorporating Living with Carcanoid charity.

Anyone wanting more information on the charity's work and about Neuroendocrine tumours should visit www.netpatientfoundation.com