It’s hankies on heads and buckets and spades at the ready as thousands of youngsters across the region get set to dig in for the 25th Sandcastle Challenge – organised by Children North East.

More than 1,700 school children from 50 primary and middle schools are set to take part in the annual event on Sandhaven Beach, South Shields, tomorrow (Friday 5 July) which is sponsored by construction specialist, Galliford Try Partnerships North.

This year’s title is ‘Build a New World’ and pupils have taken up the environmental theme with real enthusiasm.

A total of 126 staff who work for 34 different businesses – from architects and construction companies to legal practices and banks – are currently going into schools and helping children work up their designs. They’ll then join the children on the beach on the 5th to support them in building their ideas in sand.

Escomb Primary School, near Bishop Auckland, is one of three schools in the region being supported by Galliford Try Partnerships North this year.

Year Six class teacher, Leanne Collings, said her students were really excited about bringing their designs to life.

“The environment is so topical at the minute and we’re a recycling school and have already talked about climate change so the children all got straight into it.

“We’ve entered the Sandcastle Challenge in the past and I think it’s fab. It’s fantastic for businesses like Galliford Try Partnerships North to get involved with schools and support them. It’s important for the children to see that people in businesses will make time for them and help with their learning.”

Pupil, Macey Dixon, aged 11, added: “Our future should be bright but at the moment it isn’t because of all the plastic in it, so we’ve thought of ideas about how we could stop pollution from plastic and that’s going to be part of our team’s sandcastle design.”

Hayley Bell, PA to Galliford Try Partnerships Managing Director in the North East, Sean Egan, is helping the school with the Challenge.

She said: “This is the fifth year we’ve supported Children North East’s Sandcastle Challenge and we’re delighted to be both taking part and sponsoring the event again in this special 25th year. We are building new properties not far from the school for Linden Homes, at the Bishop’s Park development and initiatives like this provide us with a great opportunity to get closer to the communities in which we work – while also raising money for and supporting fantastic causes across the region.”

A team of 15 judges, including TV weathermen Paul Mooney from BBC Look North and Ross Hutchinson from ITV Tyne Tees will have the tough task of deciding on the top five best designs – each of which will be awarded £200 by the sponsor for their school. The businesses will then go head to head for the much-coveted Sandcastle Challenge trophy presented to the company that has worked the hardest on behalf of their partner school at the charity’s Sandcastle Ball in September.

Carol Taylor, senior fundraiser for Children North East, said: “We’re really grateful to our sponsors, Galliford Try Partnerships North, for their dedicated support of the Sandcastle Challenge and we’re delighted with the enthusiastic response we’ve had from both schools and businesses for our 25th anniversary.  It’s always exciting seeing how the children interpret the theme and I’m sure Build a New World will result in some fantastic and inspirational designs.”