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North East Connected

Hopping Across The North East From Hub To Hub

Charities team up to support each other through the power of walking

ByPeter Barron

Nov 4, 2021

TWO North-East charities are teaming up to support each other through the power of walking.

The Walk & Talk Trust and the North East Autism Society have formed a partnership that will help raise funds for both organisations.

The Walk & Talk Trust, founded earlier this year, has launched a summer campaign called The Big Smile – a series of 50 guided fundraising walks across the north, starting on Monday at Raby Castle, near Staindrop, County Durham.

The aim is to raise money that will be used to buy free pairs of walking boots for children and disadvantaged adults and inspire them to connect with nature.

The initiative – backed by legendary mountaineers Sir Chris Bonington and Alan Hinkes, as well as North-East athletics hero Steve Cram – also aims to tackle obesity and boost mental health.

Now, the North East Autism Society (NEAS), which was formed 41 years ago, is backing The Big Smile in a way that will be mutually beneficial.

NEAS supporters can sign up for the spectacular walks and money raised will be split between the two charities. There is no registration fee, and the minimum fundraising contribution is £99.

The series of walks, led by experienced guides Keiron Young and Richard Ellis, continues through to August 27, with a final circular walk from Durham City.

Geoff Simpson, chief executive of The Walk & Talk Trust, said: “We are thrilled to be working alongside such a well-established and respected charity as the North East Autism Society, which has been doing amazing work in the region over four decades. By signing up for one of the walks, people can help two great charities at the same time.”

Kevin Meikle, fundraising manager for NEAS, said: “We are always open to partnerships with other charities and we love the passion behind The Walk & Talk Trust. We look forward to a successful association.”

Sponsors of The Big Smile include the world’s biggest sports retailer, Decathlon, The Northern Echo, Durham County Council, County Durham Sport, Greggs, Eversheds Sutherland, SG Petch, and the It’s Great Out There Coalition.