She may have missed out on the Pride of Britain award, but charity champ Julie Reay got to feel like a movie star at one of the nation’s biggest red carpet ceremonies.
The Barnes mum and her daughter Vicky Bond, 32, had selfies with the likes of David Beckham, Little Mix, Joey Essex, Peter Andre, Piers Morgan and Duncan Bannatyne at the glittering awards ceremony.
The 50-year-old was invited to attend the awards after winning the North East ITV Fundraiser Award earlier this month. Although the overall award went to Paula Maguire, who helped bring the charity ice bucket challenge to the UK, Julie says it was an honour just to be there.
“It blows you away, the people you meet makes you so proud just to be in the same room as them,” said Julie, who has raised more than £150,000 for local charities over the past decade.
She said: “It didn’t matter that I didn’t win, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I met Paula and she’s a lovely person, such a worthy winner. They are all worthy winners.
“Being in a room with those people makes you realise you’re not alone in your grief, there are so many people that do amazing things.”
A who’s who of celebrities attended the ceremony at the Grosvenor House hotel in London’s Park Lane to hand out the awards.
Although the night isn’t about celebrities, Julie says it was a nice treat to meet them.
“Walking the red carpet was an experience in itself, we felt like movie stars,” she said. “Then we got to meet people like David Beckham and Joey Essex. The were all so nice and wanted to hear our stories. But, for once, the night isn’t about them.”
Julie faced every parent’s worst nightmare when her beloved son Peter, 13, died in a tragic rope swing accident in Galley’s Gill in 2002.
She channelled her grief to help others and set up the Peter David Lane Trust Fund to do good work in his name.
Just some of those to benefit from Julie’s dedication over the years are Southwick Primary School who were presented with a Sunshine Coach, RNLI, Great North Air Ambulance, Teenage Cancer Trust North East, Wearside Women in Need and Sunderland Royal Hospital.
Julie was nominated for the gong by Janice Procter, mum of Private Michael Tench, who died aged 18 in 2007 in Iraq.
Echo readers took to our Facebook page to congratulate Julie on making it to the national finals.
Janice Procter, who nominated Julie, wrote: “Well done. Massive respect and I hope tonight gives you a fantastic memory always. Wearside’s very own.”
Linda Hall said: “But one thing, she’s the Pride Of SUNDERLAND!!!! One Lovely Lady!!!.”
Julie Galey said: “Still our hero, so proud.”
The super fund-raiser said: “I have been overwhelmed by the messages of love and support, not just from family and friends, but even strangers sending such lovely words about how Peter’s fund has helped so many local charities and causes. It’s really touching when they tell me to stand proud and keep up the good work, it means Peter’s name and memory will live on forever.”
•The Pride of Britain will be aired on ITV on Thursday at 8pm.