Tim Healy records powerful poem in South Shields for special film marking 130th anniversary of Children North East
North East legend Tim Healy is helping mark the 130th anniversary of charity Children North East.
The star of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet and Benidorm is the narrator of a powerful film created to mark the special year for the charity.
Healy came to South Shields to record a specially commissioned poem forming the backdrop to the film, which launched on July 5.
Entitled You’re Not Alone, it was penned by poet Scott Tyrrell, and the film was produced by South Shields-based Unified Films.
Tim, who travelled from his home in Cheshire to record the emotive poem at the Harbourmaster Production Studio in South Shields, said he was only too pleased to be able to help the charity of which he’s patron.
He said: “Both the poem and film are fantastic. Children North East has been supporting youngsters and their families since 1891 when a couple of chaps decided to take a bunch of kids out to the seaside for some fresh air and a bite to eat and, though it’s sad we’re still needed today, the main thing is we are still here for families.”
It is hoped the film will not only raise awareness but also much-needed funds for Children North East so it can continue helping babies, children and young people in the region.
Leigh Elliott, Chief Executive of Children North East, said: “Covid has hit our beneficiaries hard at a time when child poverty rates in the North East are growing faster than anywhere else in the country outside inner city London.
“In parts of Middlesbrough, 46% of children are living in poverty and in some areas of Newcastle it’s 45%, these are also pre-covid figures which is extremely worrying.
“At the same time, charities like ours are finding it harder to raise income because our usual mass participation fundraising events – such as our annual schools Sandcastle Challenge – can’t go ahead in the same way.
"So we hope our film, which demonstrates how we stand up for children, will remind people why we’re here and move them to support us.”
The charity was founded by ship owner’s manager, John Lunn and cashier to Newcastle Corporation, John Watson, both of whom were concerned about the health of poor children living in slums.
Lunn wrote an open letter to the newspaper to Watson with a practical suggestion of how to help:
‘Are there any street lads in your Mission to whom a day at the seaside would be a treat? If so, we might organise a trip’
As a result of the letter, 120 Tyneside children enjoyed a boat trip on the river to Tynemouth.
The idea caught the public’s imagination and soon weekly trips were being organised, paid for through public donations.
Today, Children North East offers a wide range of support and in 2019/20 the charity created life changing differences for 3,921 babies, children and young people across the North East and further afield through 28 diverse projects from mental health counselling to supporting children who have suffered domestic abuse.
Geordie poet, Scott Tyrrell, said it had been an honour to have been asked to write the poem. “The North East spirit is tremendous. We’re a mickey-taking lot but there’s something in our gut that compels us to lift up those who are struggling. I think that, most of all, is the message I’ve tried to get across in the poem.”
Jon Burton, who runs Unified Films along with Ryan Gibson, said: “It’s been such an enjoyable challenge to bring Scott’s incredible words to life, as well as to do justice to 130 years of Children North East, a charity that does such important work in support of babies, children, young people and their families in our region.
“As well as the likes of Beamish offering up their amazing premises to the production, we’ve had such a dedicated and passionate cast and crew, all so aware of the importance of what we’re doing, and as such, giving it their absolute all. We’re very excited to share the film and tell the story of this wonderful charity.”
To support the 130th anniversary appeal, simply text 130YEARS to 70480 to donate £5. Texts will cost £5 plus one standard network rate message. Alternatively visit www.children-ne.org.uk to donate your chosen amount.