When Pete Livingstone’s partner Sarah was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, he and friend Paul Randall decided to take on a sponsored walk in the hope of raising £200 for charity.
Five years on, with the support of dozens of friends across Teesside, they’ve raised more than £100,000 under the name of the Boro Walkers Association.
Now “driving force” Pete has been recognised as a Teesside Hero after being nominated by his Boro Walkers Association co-chairman Paul and supporter Mick McGee.
Charity Teesside Philanthropic Foundation gave Pete – known to friends as ‘Livo’ – the award in recognition of his voluntary work as an unsung community champion.
Jo Swinerton of Foundation patrons Middlesbrough FC surprised Pete with the award at Boro Walkers Association’s annual dinner at the Riverside Stadium.
Along with a trophy, he received a voucher for Mohujo’s Restaurant and £1,000 for Boro Walkers Association.
The Middlesbrough-born grandfather said: “I was overwhelmed with the award but, while it’s nice to get accolades, I accepted the award on behalf of everyone who helps our charity.
“Without them, we wouldn’t be where we are today”
The inspiration behind the Boro Walkers Association was the walk along the length of Hadrian’s Wall that Pete and Paul initially planned to complete alone in the hope of raising “a couple of hundred pounds” for Teesside MS Society following Sarah’s multiple sclerosis diagnosis.
But word quickly spread and they were eventually joined by 25 friends and family, who raised a combined total of £12,000. Twelve months later they returned to carry out the same walk in the opposite direction, this time raising £15,000 for a range of local charities including the Stockton MS group that was showing Sarah such great support.
Soon after, Boro Walkers Association was born, as increasing numbers of people offered to support their fundraising efforts for an ever-increasing range of worthy causes.
Those they’ve supported include local food banks, Parents for Change, the Moses Project in Stockton, Remembering Rebecca, Middlesbrough Disabled Supporters Association, The Junction in Redcar, Ashtree School in Billingham, Priory Woods School in Middlesbrough, Starmaker, Middlebeck Boxing Club, Zoe’s Place and Teesside Hospice.
Pete and Paul are supported on the committee by Tony Mackenzie and Derek Cowan, while the charity’s many organisers and supporters include Stephen Alderson, Martin Whitely, Chris Wilkinson and Billy Myers.
“We saw we could do some serious good in the community,” said Pete, an LGV driver for Hanson. “We’re totally hooked – we’ve all got the fundraising bug.
“From a £200 target to £100,000 – and there’s no stopping us now.”
Boro Walkers are giving £3,000-worth of Christmas gifts to the Middlesbrough branch of the Salvation Army after hearing 13 to 16-year-olds are often forgotten by those who generously make festive donations to the region’s most disadvantaged kids.
For 2018, they’ve already got a football tournament, an annual walk from Whitby to Saltburn, a so-called Hell Runner 10-mile race and the Great North Run lined up among many fundraising events.
“Next year’s going to be huge,” added Pete, who is 47 today (December 1). “The sky’s the limit.”