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Who will be the North East’s Unsung GeNErosity Hero?

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The Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland has announced the category winners of its Unsung GeNErosity Heroes competition as nominated by the public, to celebrate the unsung heroes across the North East who donate their money and time to worthwhile causes, but rarely have their generosity recognised publicly.

After a panel of judges reviewed all of the nominations, it was decided that each of the five category winners would be as follows:

Lifetime GeNErosity Hero

Professor Reginald Hall – nominated by Cancer Connections

Reg is a retired surgeon and a volunteer at Cancer Connections. He was one of its founder members after he recognised there was a gap missing in cancer support. Reg has given to Cancer Connections by way of standing orders, donating to supporters’ fundraising pages, and giving the rent from a property he has in France whenever people pay for the use of it. He does history and medical talks, donating any fees he receives, and he has an award-winning book, with proceeds from sales going to Cancer Connections. Reg volunteers at least two days a week at the charity and looks after its garden. He has also sponsored a school in India, and helps out at village hall and church events.

Past GeNErosity Hero:

Peter Gordon – nominated by St Oswald’s Hospice

Before St Oswald’s even opened its doors, Peter was involved with the committee who fundraised and campaigned for a hospice servicing the people of north east England. Peter was the hospice’s first Chairman and played a vital role in shaping and developing its services. He was always friendly and approachable, well known and liked by all of the staff and volunteers. In addition to his duties as Chairman he volunteered in the hospice’s Finance Department, regularly doing the ‘bank run’ in the early days before online banking. Peter gave generously to the hospice and to many other causes across the region too, working tirelessly for charities but never really speaking about his work or seeking any recognition for his philanthropy. Sadly, Peter died in 2015.

Diverse GeNErosity Hero

Naziya Barkat – nominated by Success4All CIO

Naziya is parent to three children who have attended Success4All’s Learning Hubs and who were part of the founding group that started the West End Young Digital Artists. Her eldest is now in their final year of university, her middle in final year of A-levels, while her youngest has just started A-levels. Apart from volunteering, they all have contributed to fundraising – rallying family, friends and other parents and carers of children to encourage them to contribute too. They have organised and raised funds for Christmas raffles, Bake-Off Events, a Young Apprentice Competition (raising funds by making a product and selling it), and sponsored walks. Most recently, Naziya’s whole family and most of their neighbours pledged in the crowdfunding campaign for a Learning Bus, in which Success4All raised £25,000 in a month.

Young GeNErosity Hero

Olivia Keenan – nominated by Success4All CIO

Olivia started attending Success4All’s Blakelaw Learning Hub when she was 11. As soon as she became confident in her academic capabilities, she wanted to help others. She was one of the youngest to achieve the AQA Skills Award in peer tutoring at 13 and has helped many others gain in confidence and skills. At 16, she organised single-handedly a bag-packing event – contacting the supermarket, completing forms, designing leaflets, setting up a rota, communicating dos and don’ts – resulting in over £500 being raised. She repeated this last year. Apart from taking part in or donating to every fundraising event Success4All organises, she has also supported and donated to Macmillan, as she has sadly lost family members to cancer.

Employers’ GeNErosity Hero

Neil Dickinson, nominated by Brewin Dolphin

Neil and his wife Helen have, for the past several years, organised charity events to raise funds for the Palliative Care Unit at Wansbeck General Hospital. Their initial motivation was the death of Helen’s mother, Margaret Stewart, resulting in annual events such as the “Match 4 Margaret”, a football match held at Ashington Community Football Club, and numerous charity walks across Northumberland between some of the lower league clubs in the region such as Blyth, Bedlington, Ashington and Whitley Bay. Neil and his wife have raised over £18,000 thanks to their tireless efforts, a significant proportion of which they have donated themselves. Despite the pressure of a full-time career at Brewin Dolphin, Neil continues to devote his time to charitable work, fundraising, his family and his beloved Ashington Football Club.

Sandra King, Chief Philanthropy Officer at the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland, said: “A big thank you to everyone who took the time to nominate an Unsung Hero in our competition. We were thrilled not only by the number of entries, but also by the quality of philanthropy that is happening in all different shapes and sizes across our region, to make a positive difference for the people who need it most.

“An extra special congratulations must go to our category winners. The case studies offer such a diverse range, showing that really anyone can be a philanthropist. It’s about being generous in a number of different ways. Whether that’s setting up a direct debit to a charity for £1 a month or creating a £1,000,000 fund with a Community Foundation, all the way through to organising charitable events and donating your time to support a cause. The root of philanthropy is that it’s about helping others in whichever way you can when they need it most.

“Our category winners are shining examples of this and I’d like to wish them the best of luck in the next stage of the competition.”

Each category winner will now receive £1,000 to donate to a charity, community group or local good cause they have supported during their time as an unsung philanthropist in the North East. However, the competition continues, as all five category winners now face each other to win an additional £3,000 for their good cause, in a vote decided online by members of the public to crown the people’s champion Unsung GeNErosity Hero.

The Unsung GeNErosity Hero competition is part of the Community Foundation and Newcastle University’s GeNErosity Festival,. It is a series of 50 events, taking place across the North East between Wednesday 7th November and Tuesday 27th November, celebrating and debating the past, present and future of philanthropy and giving across the region, which has helped to shape the North East today.

As part of the festival line-up, members of the public will now be able to vote online for their overall Unsung GeNErosity Hero, with voting closing at 12noon on Monday 26th November. The people’s choice champion will then be announced during the final day of the GeNErosity Festival on Tuesday 27th November, which coincides with the international awareness day of #GivingTuesday.

For more information about the GeNErosity Festival, the Unsung GeNErosity Hero competition, or to vote for the people’s champion Unsung GeNErosity Hero, visit:

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