My Christmas wish: Find a new Great North Dog Walk sponsor

Tony Carlisle is seeking a sponsor for the 2016 Great North Dog Walk.
Tony Carlisle is seeking a sponsor for the 2016 Great North Dog Walk.

Great North Dog Walk boss Tony Carlisle is praying that his Christmas wish comes true – to win a vital sponsor to keep his charity extravaganza on top of the world in the New Year.

The charity champion is facing the festive season in limbo after failing to secure new backing for the record-breaking extravaganza, which marked its milestone 25th anniverary this year.

People in the borough are always very giving.

Tony Carlisle

The former Harton Technology College teacher launched an appeal for businesses – however large or small – to lend their support back in October after previous main sponsor Pets at Home ended its five-year partnership.

Now the 59-year-old is renewing his call for help – in the hope of securing a much-needed link-up in time for 2016.

This year’s silver anniversary walk saw a best-ever haul of 26,423 four-legged friends put their paws on the starting line at The Leas, in South Shields.

Mr Carlisle is still managing to stay one step ahead of rival dog walks in North America – but fears he may have to scale back his ambitions without a new financial partner.

He said; “I wanted to make a Christmas appeal to everyone, to make people realise just how important the walk is to the borough.

“We are still looking for a new corporate sponsor.

“But it doesn’t just have to be one big business.

“Individuals and businesses, large and small, can get in touch and offer support.

“I want to get a new sponsor secured by January.

“The dog walk is still the biggest in the world but we will have to scale that back if we don’t get new sponsorship.”

He added: “People’s spirits are high at Christmas and people in the borough are always very giving.

“I have been named UK fundraiser of the year by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IWAF) and the dog walk now gets international recognition.

“Any new sponsor will benefit from that.”

Mr Carlisle has raised millions of pounds for charity since launching the dog walk in 1990 – and is keen to boost that total in the years to come.

Anyone who would like to sponsor the 2016 Great North Dog Walk – which will be held on Sunday, June 5 2016 – can get in touch with Mr Carlisle on Mr Carlisle on 07957249799 or email him at tony.carlisle@sky.com