An emotional fundraising champion paid tribute to South Tyneside hero Jarra Jim as he became the legend’s successor at the Best of South Tyneside Awards.
Tony Carlisle could not keep back the tears as he picked up the trophy for the Lifetime Contribution Award.
It was the same honour bestowed on Jim Purcell in September 2017. Sadly, Jim passed away around five months later.
Tony was this year’s Lifetime Contribution Award winner for running the Great North Dog Walk for 29 years.
“I am emotional,” he admitted as he gave his speech to a packed audience at the Roker Hotel, adding: “This is the most honoured award I have ever received in my life.”
The trophy win came just a week after Tony was runner-up in the National Diversity Awards in the Lifetime Achievement category for his work towards diversity and inclusion.
I would like to say something that is very important to me about the legacy of Jarra Jim, Jim Purcell, from last year’s awards. I dedicate this award to Jim Purcell.Tony Carlisle
But Tony told the Best of South Tyneside audience it had given him immense pride to win a title closer to home: “It is not about national awards. This borough has got so much about it,” he said.
“To me, this is important. It is my most personal occasion. I am sorry, I am getting too emotional but it is fantastic.”
He paid his tribute to Jarra Jim, and said: “I would like to say something that is very important to me about the legacy of Jarra Jim, Jim Purcell, from last year’s awards. I dedicate this award to Jim Purcell.”
Jim was 96 when he collected his trophy in 2017 for doing so much to help worthy causes, in particular young people with disabilities.
Jim first took up running in 1986, following the death of his wife Betty and raised thousands of pounds for children’s charities, collected a number of medals and trophies in recognition of his charity work, and been snapped with sporting celebrities.
After paying tribute to him, Tony also thanked the awards sponsors - Barbour, Harlow Printing Limited, JML, BT South Tyneside, Northumbrian Water, UTS Engineering Ltd, Warmseal and South Tyneside College - for helping to make the event such a success.
Tony won the 2018 crown for running The Great North Dog Walk for 29 years now, with organisers reporting 33,149 dogs and 50,000 people at this year’s event as well as £8million raised for charity.
Later, he spoke to the Gazette to say: “I am buzzing. It is amazing and I did not expect it.”
Tony was one of 15 winners on a night of amazing drama when courageous children, top-class sportsmen and women, children of achievement and many more picked up honours.
Watch out for an eight-page supplement, filled with more photographs and interviews, in the Shields Gazette on Wednesday, September 26.