GREAT North Dog Walk boss Tony Carlisle is gearing up for a happy new year as he moves on from a turbulent 2013.
The charity champion suffered a heart attack in November, and the death of his beloved pet dog Travis and his house being flooded also took their toll on him earlier in the year.
Mr Carlisle was rushed to South Tyneside District Hospital after his heart attack before being transferred to Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital for a two-hour operation.
The surgery discovered he had been living with a blocked right artery for several years, which could have proved fatal if not detected.
Mr Carlisle was allowed home for the holiday season, ahead of his return for an operation this month which could yet be a heart bypass or even a transplant.
He will be back at the South Shields hospital to discuss his prognosis with doctors tomorrow ahead of a surgery date at the Freeman later in the month.
But as he waits for a hospital date for heart bypass surgery, his sights are set on a successful 2014 – and hitting a major milestone at the Great North Dog Walk.
The event has raised more than £4.7m for good causes since its launch in 1990 and is set to hit the £5m mark next time round.
The 57-year-old, of Cauldwell Villas, South Shields, said: “My aim for 2014 is to live longer and to break the £5m mark raised for charitable causes at the dog walk. A total of £4.72m has been raised to date.”
“I would like to wish everyone a happy new year.
“Let’s put South Shields on the map again.
“We have a fantastic town and a fantastic borough, with an incredible community spirit.
“There is no place better for supporting charity than in this borough.”
The former Harton Technology College teacher enjoyed a “magical” Christmas that he feared he would never see with partner Nicola and daughters Summer, five, and Toni, three.
He added: “I didn’t know where I was going to be, whether I would still be in hospital or not.
“It was a magical Christmas – everything you would want it to be.”
Mr Carlisle has been overwhelmed by the support of the public since his heart attack blow and is determined to give back by raising more funds for good causes at this year’s Great North Dog Walk, again being held at The Leas, in South Shields, on Sunday, June 8.