Sunderland teenage charity champ honoured with Diana Award

Oxclose Community Academy pupil Mark Thornley with his Diana Award.

Oxclose Community Academy pupil Mark Thornley with his Diana Award.

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A teenage charity champ is over the moon after receiving a Diana Award honouring his efforts to raise funds for worthy causes.

For the last ten years Mark Thorley, 16, has raised more than £8,000 for numerous charities in the North East.

Oxclose Community Academy pupil Mark Thornley receives his Diana Award from Dr Bruce Marjoribanks.

Oxclose Community Academy pupil Mark Thornley receives his Diana Award from Dr Bruce Marjoribanks.

The Diana Award is awarded to young people who have been dedicated to help transform the lives of others and is presented in the name of Diana, Princess of Wales.

Mark, a pupil at Oxclose Community Academy in Washington, began fundraising aged six, after spotting an appeal to take part in a sponsored walk for The Children’s Society and hasn’t looked back since.

Mark, from Rievaulx in Biddick, Washington, was presented with the award at a special assembly on June 30 at the school.

Mum Wendy Thorley, 54, a childhood studies lecturer at Sunderland University, said she was proud of her son’s achievements.

She said: “He has done so many things to raise funds for charity and I think one of the things he enjoys the most about it is helping other young people in the area and seeing the results of his work, which has really motivated him to keep going with it.

“Over the years he has raised funds for more than ten various charities and organisations including The Children’s Society, The Royal Victoria Infirmary, The RNLI, and Barnardos.

“All the money goes into a fund I set up in the Childhood Studies Department at the university and then goes back into the community.

“People within the childhood studies department at the university put him forward for the award as they know that he has done so much in the last ten years.

“He is a nice lad who has done an awful lot for people, giving up time in his holidays to do these activities without asking for any recognition.

“I couldn’t name any other children that have done what he has done.”

Mark has raised funds through charity runs, walks and skiing events, to donate cash to projects including the Manzini Project, where he raised funds to install a clean water tap in Africa to those who did not have a safe water supply and donating presents to children at the Royal Victoria Infirmary Hospital.

Mark said: “I just really enjoy fundraising and have enjoyed taking part in the activities to raise the funds.
“In the ten years I have been fundraising, one of my favourite events has to be the Hadrian’s Wall walk.
“I am quite proud of what I have done, but getting the award was a big surprise and I don’t think I have really taken it in yet.
“The award means a lot.”

Coun Louise Farthing, Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services, said: “Mark’s story is an inspiration to us all. I’m delighted to see him getting the credit he deserves for all the hard work he has put into his charity fundraising.

“I’m very proud to see one of our adopted children making such a fantastic contribution to the community and it’s wonderful that he has been recognised for this with a Diana Award.”