Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 14.15.07Eleven North East charities are set to benefit from a marathon trip around the Tyne and Wear Metro.

Starting at Newcastle Airport, three intrepid fund-raisers will get on and off trains at 59 stations before reaching their final stop at St James’ – around 15 hours later – to complete the Metro 60 Charity Challenge and raise an estimated £60,000. Their journey begins on the first Metro of the day on Tuesday 26 April.

“Metro 60 is an idea I had a few years ago,” said Steve Wilkinson, one of the organisers and train travellers.  “I didn’t know whether it was possible, so I went through all the timetables and found that it was – but it would take 15 hours and had never been tried before – so I thought it was an ideal way to raise some money for local charities.”

The 62-year-old, who lives in Kingston Park, is also known as campaigner WheelchairSteve.  Last month he addressed city councillors about ways to make Newcastle a disability friendly city.

For the Metro 60 challenge he has teamed up with friends Phil Pugh and Paul Lawton, whose company Chat Heroes already provides free web chat support for 11 North East charities.  “It made sense to help Steve achieve his dream and at the same time assist the good causes we already work with. I just wish he’d had the idea a few years ago before the Metro was extended,” he said.

Businesses based near each station are being asked whether they want to sponsor a leg of the record-breaking journey.

Paul Walker, Customer Service Director at DB Regio Tyne and Wear, which operates Metro on behalf of Nexus, said: “We hope that Steve, Paul and Phil enjoy their day on Metro and we wish them the very best of luck in their fundraising challenge.

“We will be interested to hear any feedback from Steve on how we can improve our offer further for passengers who use a wheelchair.”

The charities benefiting from the challenge are: The Sunshine Fund, 4 Louis, Hope for Kidz, Silverline Memories, Heal and Toe Children’s Charity, Coco, Downs Syndrome North East, NE Autism, Tiny Lives, Off The Rail Kids and Willow Burn Hospice.

Bradley French, the Overseas Operations Manager with COCO, said: “We are hugely grateful to Steve, Paul and Phil for their efforts on the Metro 60 Challenge. All proceeds to COCO will be used to provide sustainable solutions to the problems preventing children in East Africa from accessing education.”

Willow Burn Hospice’s Income Generation and Marketing Manager Katherine Luke: “We are so grateful to all the people who are prepared to put themselves through really tough challenges to help raise money for charities in the North East.  We would not exist without fantastic efforts such as the Metro 60 Challenge.”

For further details visit www.metro60challenge.com.