Hartlepool business owner Mick Sumpter has been recognised for his lifelong commitment to helping children’s charities with a Teesside Hero Award.
Despite the seven-days-a-week demands of running MKM Building Supplies, Mick dedicates long hours to supporting a wide range of local charities including Carlton Camp, the Kay Smith Fund, The Haven and Stranton Academy Trust.
His efforts have helped raised more than £200,000 in memory of his friend Kay Smith to support families affected by a cancer diagnosis, with the charity covering the salary costs of a children’s bereavement counsellor at Hartlepool’s Alice House Hospice.
And, further afield, Mick travels to Romania at least twice a year to give his time and labour skills to support two centres for children with Downs Syndrome and other disabilities.
Grandfather Mick, who has two children and two step-children, says he was inspired to help children’s charities by the guidance he received from teachers and employers throughout his young life.
“When I was growing up, I always had people around me such as teachers and Jim Atkinson at JT Atkinson who believed in doing good whenever they could. That rubbed off on me. If there’s an opportunity to do some good and I can help, I like to do that.
“I’ve always liked to do things for children. I was a poor performer at school and there are so many kids in a similar situation, who need plenty of help, support and guidance from the people around them. They are confronted with misfortunes in life through no fault of their own, so it’s my belief that if I can do something to help than I should.
“That’s why I’m so actively involved as a trustee for Carlton Camp, which is a fantastic place that was started by a couple of Hartlepool guys back in the 1930s to give poorer kids holidays in the countryside. Local government cutbacks mean there’s no money going in there from local councils like there once was, so they need all the help they can get.
“They’ve got huge challenges but there are still so many kids who we like to try to help with holidays and outdoor adventures that would otherwise be way beyond their family’s needs.”
Hartlepool born and bred, Mick also gives up much of his time fundraising in memory of his late friend, Kay Smith.
He said: “Kay was a very good friend and it was so sad when I found out she was terminally ill with cancer, but she wanted to fundraise for cancer-related charities and I readily agreed to help. Since she passed away, we’ve carried on doing it in her memory and we’ve now raised well over £200,000.”
Mick, 56, is also a director of Hartlepool’s Stranton Academy Trust, chairman of the The Haven, a free and confidential counselling, information and support group for young Hartlepool people, and a trustee of Hartlepool NDC Trust, a regeneration project that provides opportunities for young people furthest from the labour market to engage in work experience on a construction site.
But he is most proud of the work he has carried out over a period of more than 20 years for Romanian centres for the disabled. “They’d have nothing without our support,” he said. “There’s a bunch of local guys that have been giving up their time to fundraise and go out there and help all we can. What we do there has a massive impact on the lives of those young people.”
Mick received his Teesside Hero Award from charitable movement Teesside Philanthropic Foundation in a surprise presentation by David Henderson of the charity’s patrons, local firm PX Group. He also received a voucher for Mohujo’s restaurant and £1,000 for The Haven’s young people’s counselling service.
“I’m as pleased as punch,” he admitted. “It’s nice to get a bit of recognition and a pat on back for what you’ve done, but I’m honestly more focused on what I’m doing for others. It’s never been about me, and I’m just one of many people who go out of their way to do some good.”