Sunderland man ready for his first Great North Run to help charity which has helped transform his life

A man who has been given a career boost through a cafe project is to run the Great North Run to boost its funds.

Tuesday, 3rd September 2019, 08:40 am
Updated Wednesday, 4th September 2019, 14:19 pm
Josh Hardie.

Smile for Life helps disabled and disadvantaged children and young people from across the North East live happier, easier and fuller lives.

Among those to be helped by it is Josh Hardie, from Sunderland, who has autism and signed up for its barista training – he did so well with its help he is now a supervisor at Cafe Beam.

The charity’s cafe runs work experience placement while the organisation also offers specialist equipment, experiences, short breaks and family days out, as well as accessible and fully-inclusive activities, challenge days and trips for larger groups during school holidays.

To help boost funds, Josh will be running the half marathon on Sunday, September 8, after his involvement in the Gosforth cafe challenged him to sign up for a new experience to help raise his confidence.

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The 22-year-old, who was given his first paid job through the cafe, is looking forward to his first Great North Run and proud to be running to support Smile For Life.

Josh, who will run as part of a team which also includes the charity’s chief executive Paula Gascoinge, said: “Smile For Life helps change lives and helped me get my first job.

“When I found out I was going to be a supervisor I was ecstatic.

“I’ve never gone home so happy.

“I’m looking forward to the Great North Run and the people cheering us on.

“I’ve been doing a bit of training and I’m determined to finish. I won’t give up.”

The Great North Run helps Smile for Life’s annual fundraising, with a windfall already gifted by copy, print and scan management company SOS Group, which has donated £1,000 to help more runners to sign up.

Andrew Skelton, director at SOS Group, visited Cafe Beam to hand over the firm’s donation.

He said: “It was so good to hear Josh’s enthusiasm for the run.

“We know he’ll enjoy the day and running as part of the charity’s team.

“We hope it’s a very special day and wish them all well.”