Former world champion athlete Steve Cram has fired the starting pistol on a festive fund-raising campaign which gives Wearsiders the opportunity to remember lost loved ones.
Steve was at The Bridges shopping centre to hang the first bauble on the 2018 St Benedict’s Dedication Christmas Tree.
Between now and Christmas, the public will be able to make a donation and add their own baubles to the tree.
Last year, the campaign raised over £12,000 for the hospice.
The hospice has been the official charity of the Siglion Sunderland City Half Marathon and 10K since 2017 and an agreement has just been signed to extend the partnership to 2020.
This is the second year that Steve has placed the first bauble on the Dedication Christmas Tree, last year remembering his aunt, Joy Lynch, who was a regular volunteer at the Sunderland races, where she recruited a team of friends and family to hand out water and cheer on runners on Ryhope Road.
She died in 2016 after suffering from cancer.
This year Steve sadly lost his dad Bill following a long illness and says he is grateful for the opportunity to launch the campaign in memory of both.
Steve said: “I sadly lost my dad back in January and along with the rest of the family we all appreciate the chance to be able to remember him and those loved ones who are no longer with us and who we continue to miss enormously.
“I was so pleased to hear about the success of last year’s campaign and I know that the donations were put to very good use by the wonderful team at St Benedict’s Hospice.
“I hope that the public flock to the Bridges in the lead up to Christmas and help us raise even more this year.”
Catrina Flynn, head of fundraising operations at the hospice, said: “We couldn’t do this annual appeal without the generosity of the Bridges, the support of our Corporate Partners ResQ and Zest Gym and, of course, our loyal and dedicated band of volunteers who man the tree each and every day for the four-week period we are here.”
Samantha Czwordon-Auld, marketing and communications manager at the Bridges, added: “Last year, our really generous shoppers’ dedication donations raised a staggering £12,000 for the hospice, and I’ve no doubt that the same generosity is shown again this year.
“It’s a wonderful and often emotional addition to the centre and we were very proud that Steve was here once again to add the first bauble.”
The Dedication Tree is ear Primark in the Bridges and shoppers can make a donation to the team of St Benedict’s volunteers and write out a personal message on a bauble in memory of a loved one, and then hang it on the tree.
Entries for the 2019 Run Sunderland Festival events are open at www.sunderlandcity10k.com and everyone who enters will be given the option of making a donation or agreeing to run in support of St Benedict’s.