A South Tyneside charity champion has scooped a prestigious honour at the House of Lords for a lifetime of sterling service to good causes.
Great North Dog Walk boss Tony Carlisle toasted ‘one of the proudest moments of his life’ after receiving the Fundraiser of the Year Award from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IWAF) at a glitzy London bash.
The award win caps a fantastic 40 years of fundraising for the 58-year-old – who has raised a stunning £6.3million for a raft of animal charities and set up the record-breaking dog walk back in 1990.
The ever-popular extravaganza, held annually at The Leas, in South Shields, marked its milestone anniversary in June with a best-ever haul of 26,423 dogs taking to the start line.
But the former Harton Technology College teacher feared he would be unable to pick up his accolade in person after suffering a suspected heart attack last Monday.
He spent three days at South Tyneside Hospital – leaving his London date hanging in the balance – before he decided to take a ‘calculated risk’ to travel to the ceremony flanked by two pals to offer support.
Mr Carlisle, from Cauldwell Villas, South Shields, said he was ‘humbled’ to be recognised for his charitable efforts.
He said: “It is one of the proudest moments of my life. It is very humbling to receive the award.
“We have been able to fly the flag for the borough.
“I have been supporting charities for 40 years.
“When I was in hospital it was a great tonic to know I had won this award.
“I just want to make my family proud.
“I love what I do, particularly on the day when I can see people coming together from the local community all for the love of dogs.
“We even have people attending from across the country and abroad these days, and as well as being fun and healthy it’s a great way to educate people about the welfare of dogs and raise money for animals in need.
“Winning the IFAW award tops a great year for me. As well as battling through serious health issues I’ve married my partner Nicola, had another successful dog walk and now to receive national recognition with this Animal Action Award is fantastic.”
Philip Mansbridge, UK director of IFAW, said: “Tony’s many years of fundraising for animal charities have enabled other groups to do so much more for animals in need.
“His efforts make him a true inspiration to others. He is a very deserving winner of IFAW’s Fundraiser of the Year Award.”
Mr Carlisle was presented with his gong at the Animal Action Awards event by TV wildlife presenter Bill Oddie.