THE campaign to save Sunderland Central Fire Station, spearheaded by the Echo, is in line for a national award.
The Hold Fire appeal has been selected to appear in the Making a Difference showcase as part of Local Newspaper Week, to be held next month.
Hundreds of daily and weekly newspapers participate each year, and this year’s Making a Difference theme aims to showcase the role of local media in improving the lives of people in local communities.
The Echo joined forces with Wearside MPs, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) and, most importantly, our readers to fight Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Authority’s decision to close the city’s central fire station as part of a plan to save millions of pounds last year.
The Echo collected 14,000 signatures in writing and online through our Hold Fire campaign, while more than 20,000 people added their names to a collection organised by Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott and the FBU.
Fire authority chiefs met in February and agreed to reverse the decision, saving the Railway Row station as well as others in Gosforth and Wallsend.
FBU secretary Russ King said backing from the Echo had been crucial to the success of the campaign.
“The support from the Sunderland Echo was absolutely fantastic,” he said.
“Not only the members of the FBU but people across the whole of Sunderland are immensely proud of what the Echo did in terms of help and support to secure the saving of the fire station.”
Sunderland Echo managing editor Gavin Foster said the success of the Hold Fire campaign was a testament to the unique role local newspapers play in serving their communities.
“Our petition was an instant hit,” he said.
“With Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott and the Fire Brigades Union joining the fight, we were able to take our petition on to the streets. A number of signature collection days were held and a march through the city centre opposing the closure took place.
“The community got involved, with school kids setting up their own petition in classrooms and individuals taking the Echo’s petition door to door.
“I am delighted that the hard work and commitment of all those involved in the campaign, from fire service personnel to MPs and councillors, to the Echo’s staff and readers, has been recognised with this nomination in the Making a Difference showcase as part of Local Newspaper Week.
“Local papers such as the Echo enjoy a unique and very special relationship with the communities they serve.
“Our Holding Fire campaign is a perfect example of how powerful that relationship can be and how it can unite people and inspire them to make their community a better place.”
Make a Difference
READERS from across Britain are being urged to vote for their favourite local newspaper campaigns next month.
Local Newspaper Week, which celebrates the special contribution newspapers make to communities throughout Britain will run from May 11 to May 17.
Voting for the Making A Difference campaign will be live on the website – www.localnewspaperweek.co.uk – where readers will be able to view details of the Sunderland Echo’s Hold Fire campaign and others in the running for the award, as well as voting for the one they think has really made a difference to its readers’ lives.
The winning Making a Difference campaign story will be announced at the Society of Editors Regional Press Awards on Friday, May 15.