Great North Run day honour for Big Pink Dress fundraising giant Colin
A South Shields man who has raised thousands of pounds for charity today had his efforts recognised by the Prime Minister.
Colin Burgin-Plews, 50, has become a familiar face all over the country as the Big Pink Dress as he raises money for Breast Cancer Now and other charities.
He's hard to miss; he stands 6ft 6in, has a full beard, and runs in an outlandish (usually pink) hand-made ball gown, weighing 2st.
Today his fundraising was recognised when he was presented with the Points of Light award, which honours outstanding volunteers who are making a difference in their communities.
The award was presented to Colin by former Olympian and Great North Run founder Brendan Foster at the start line of the 2018 Great North Run.
What started out as a way to raise some money in support of a friend who had been diagnosed with breast cancer has grown into a phenomenon.
Colin has now done around 50 fun runs and marathons as the Big Pink Dress, raising around Â£30,000 for Breast Cancer Now to help fund vital breast cancer research.
Each day, someone, somewhere in the country is selected to receive the award to celebrate their achievements. Colin is the 995th recipient.
In a personal letter to him, Prime Minister Theresa May, wrote: "Your eye-catching runs have raised a tremendous amount of money for Breast Cancer Now and are also raising awareness of the charity’s vital work.
"Your handcrafted pink dresses have become a much-loved sight in charity runs across the country, and I wish you every success as you continue to inspire donations to this important cause."
Colin said at the end of the race: "I am absolutely shattered, but what a day - it's been incredible from start to finish.
"I think I've completed the run in around 3hrs 40mins, which is my own world record.
"I have taken part in runs around the world, and nothing competes with this, it's just so special, all these spectators, no matter what the weather are willing you on. It's brilliant.
"To receive a call telling me I'd been given the Points of Light award from the Prime Minister, Theresa May, has to be one of the proudest days of my life. "The support I've had since I started Big Pink Dress fundraising for Breast Cancer Now at the 2014 Great North Run has been absolutely incredible.
"A special 'thank you' to my wife Cath, my son Ollie, and friends Stephanie and Gary for their fantastic support, and without whom I couldn't do what I do.
"To be given the award at this year's run is so special to me. From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much."
Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive of Breast Cancer Now: said: “Colin is such a deserving winner of this very special award from the Prime Minister.
"We are so grateful to himfor his selfless dedication, and for his incredible efforts to help fund our cutting-edge research to help put a stop to breast cancer.
“His energy and enthusiasm is infectious, and Colin has inspired so many others to take on challenges to fundraise for breast cancer research, to help us reach our aim that by 2050 everyone who develops breast cancer will live, and live well.
“In his iconic Big Pink Dress, Colin goes above and beyond to complete his extraordinary challenges.
"He is a real champion, and encapsulates the spirit of Breast Cancer Now. We are very lucky to have Colin’s continued support."
South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck was waiting at the finish line to congratulate him on his award.
She added: “Colin is an excellent ambassador for Breast Cancer Now and his fundraising has no doubt made a huge contribution toward vital breast cancer research.
"He brings a smile to every face he meets, and his gowns are just amazing.
“I know this started out as a very personal tribute to Colin’s friends who had experienced and been lost to breast cancer, but I really think there are not many people in our town now who don’t know about Colin and his unique sense of fun."