Charity in memory of South Shields toddler to benefit from Customs House panto

Ray Spencer, executive director of The Customs House, with Sarah Cookson, founder of The Charlie Cookson Foundation.
Ray Spencer, executive director of The Customs House, with Sarah Cookson, founder of The Charlie Cookson Foundation.

A charity set up in memory of a brave South Shields toddler has received major backing from The Customs House.

The Charlie Cookson Foundation (CCF) has been chosen as the arts venue’s charity partner for the 2017-18 pantomime season, which will see audiences raise funds for the organisation.

Charlie Cookson, whose memory lives on through the charity set up in his name.

Charlie Cookson, whose memory lives on through the charity set up in his name.

Last year’s partner was children’s charity the NSPCC, which received a record-breaking total of more than £10,000 as it marked the 30th anniversary of its counselling service Childline.

The funds raised for CCF will support the parents of seriously ill children with life-limiting conditions, who need constant care or specialist nursing facilities.

The charity was set up in 2013 by South Shields couple Sarah and Christopher Cookson in memory of son Charlie, who died earlier that year at the age of two-and-a-half after battling health issues from birth.

Sarah said: “We are absolutely delighted that our foundation has been selected by The Customs House to be their chosen charity throughout the pantomime season.

We are very overwhelmed and extremely grateful for the support

Sarah Cookson

“We are very overwhelmed and extremely grateful for the support.

“This a great opportunity to raise awareness for our unique foundation and raise much-needed funds.

“We are looking forward to being actively involved in promoting our foundation and the work we do throughout the very busy panto season.”

Ray Spencer MBE, executive director of The Customs House, who also writes, directs and stars in the annual pantomime, said: “Every year we are just astonished by people’s generosity and our audience always dig deep to raise an impressive amount.

Ray Spencer, executive director of The Customs House, hands over a cheque to Wendy Bates, NSPCC fundraising regional head of north, for the �10,474.58 raised during the 2016/17 panto season.

Ray Spencer, executive director of The Customs House, hands over a cheque to Wendy Bates, NSPCC fundraising regional head of north, for the �10,474.58 raised during the 2016/17 panto season.

“We’re delighted to be helping the Charlie Cookson Foundation this year, which in turn will help relieve the distress of worried parents at the most difficult time in their lives.

“We hope our panto audience give generously to this great cause.”

The foundation was set up by Sarah and Christopher to help families in similar circumstances that they found themselves in, and repay the support shown during Charlie’s life.

This year’s panto is The Lambton Worm, and will be on stage between November 28 and January 6.

Tickets are on sale from £9.99 by calling 0191 454 1234 or visiting www.customshouse.co.uk