Thousands of North East school children take part in 25th Sandcastle Challenge in South Shields

Thousands of school children grabbed their buckets and spades and hit Sandhaven Beach in South Shields for the annual Sandcastle Challenge.

By Sarah Sinclair
Friday, 05 July, 2019, 16:41

More than 1,700 youngsters from 50 primary and middle schools across the region took part in the 25th anniversary of the event, which is organised by the charity, Children North East.

Creations took on an environmental theme in a nod to this year’s event entitled ‘Build a New World’.

Many pupils thought about how they can improve their environmental impact, while others took the title more literally, and came up with their own new planet.

A team of 15 judges, including the gazette’s editorial director Joy Yates and TV weathermen Paul Mooney from BBC Look North and Ross Hutchinson from ITV Tyne Tees, had the tough task of choosing the five best designs.

Winning teams, Bridgewater Primary in Newcastle; Roseberry Primary in Chester-le-Street; Ludworth Primary School, Durham; St Peter's RC Primary, Gateshead and Beacon Hill Primary from Cramlington, were each awarded £200 for their school.

Marine Park Primary School in South Shields won best name, with their ‘Clean Green Marine Machine’.

Annual Sandcastle Challenge at Sandhaven Beach. Judges Mayor and Mayoress Coun Norman Dick and Jean Williamson

South Tyneside Mayor, Coun Norman Dick and Mayoress Jean Williamson, were delighted to be judging on the day.

“It’s fantastic, it’s absolutely brilliant to see their little faces and they are all getting stuck in. They thoroughly enjoy it,” said Coun Dick.

“Jean and I just love coming down here and judging, they all put their heart and soul into it.”

Ross Hutchinson, now in his second year of judging, said: “It’s always lovely to come here and it’s just amazing to see so many kids out of lessons, enjoying the summer.

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Annual Sandcastle Challenge at Sandhaven Beach. Judges Mayor Coun Norman Dick with North East Editorial Director Joy Yates

“I don’t think there’s many other things where you get this many children all together all having a good time. It’s amazing how creative they get.”

The Sandcastle Challenge is inspired by an event which happened 128 years ago when Children North East raised money to take children living in poverty for a day out at the beach in Tynemouth.

“This day is just to give children from across the North East a really good day out where they can all work together, build some fantastic sandcastles and have a bit of fun on the beach,” said fundraising manager, Kasia Kurowska.

“Many of the children will probably never have been to the beach, so it’s really important to us that we can give them that experience.

Annual Sandcastle Challenge at Sandhaven Beach. Judge ITV Tyne Tees Ross Huthinson

“Just before they come on the beach it’s so exciting, the energy and anticipation, we’ve always got to slightly hold them back because they really want to be here.”

She added: “We’ve had some fantastic volunteers as well all helping us. It’s been amazing.”

Annual Sandcastle Challenge at Sandhaven Beach.
Annual Sandcastle Challenge at Sandhaven Beach. St Oswalds RC Primary School
Annual Sandcastle Challenge at Sandhaven Beach. Simonside Primary School children from left Holly Hume, five and Ruby Tuck, six
Annual Sandcastle Challenge at Sandhaven Beach.