‘I feel like I am letting so many people down’ - Great North Dog Walk cancelled for 2019

Organiser Tony Carlisle ahead of the 2018 Great North Dog Walk
Organiser Tony Carlisle ahead of the 2018 Great North Dog Walk

A charity champion has been forced to cancel his annual event due to ill health.

Tony Carlisle has organised the Great North Dog Walk for 29 years on The Leas in South Shields but, sadly, this year’s event won’t be taking place.

Tony, who was looking forward to marking the 30th anniversary of the event, which in the past has attracted tens of thousands of pooches and their owners, but doctors have said no.

Tony, who over the years has raised more than £8million for charity, said he is ‘devastated’ at having to cancel the June event this year.

But, after having a horrendous run of ill health, including almost losing his life to sepsis earlier this year, Tony’s consultant has advised against running the event.

The 62-year-old, said: “I am devastated about it. It is not a decision I have taken lightly, I have thought long and hard about it, but I am not in the right place physically and mentally to organise it this year.

“I really hope people will understand, because I feel like I am letting so many people down.

“This is one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make.

“At first I thought I should maybe just announce I was retiring, but now I’m hoping that if I take the time to recover then maybe we can have the 30th anniversary event next year.”

Last year Tony was honoured with the Lifetime Contribution Award at the Best of South Tyneside Awards 2018, which were held at the Roker Hotel, Sunderland.

Tony said the sepsis caused organ failure and his family were even on the brink of making funeral arrangements for him.

He is also currently using a wheelchair due to fractures in his leg.

Tony, who has a number of medical condition, including diabetes, says he has been in and out of hospital several times since October and is not well enough to hold the event.

As well as running the Great North Dog Walk, which attracts people from all over the country, Tony is also an ambassador for support group Waves, which supports young people with needs including autism, learning difficulties and other disabilities.

The Great North Dog Walk is said to be the world’s biggest charity dog walk and the current Guinness World Record-holder.

Last year an estimated 40,000 pooches took part in the South Shields event raising money for good causes, including Dogs Trust.