The organiser of South Tyneside’s ever-growing dog walk has been invited to Sweden’s equivalent event after another record-breaking year.
Tony Carlisle, who has run the Great North Dog Walk in South Shields since its formation in 1990, will be the official starter of next year’s Great Sweden Dog Walk.
Mr Carlisle says 33,149 dogs and 50,000 people took part in the latest Great North Dog Walk, which was held on Sunday at the Leas.
Among the special guests was Oskar Gillstrom, who runs an annual walk in Stockholm, Sweden.
He has now invited Mr Carlisle to Sweden for next year’s event, where he will act in as advisory capacity and start the race.
Mr Carlisle said: “As a direct result of Sunday’s event and with my three Swedish guests in attendance, I have been officially invited to Sweden for their event next May.
The event has become a spectacle on the national calendar and we’re hoping for another record turnout next yearTony Carlisle
“That is a great honour for not just me, but also the town of South Shields and the borough of South Tyneside.”
Mr Carlisle says this year’s Great North Dog Walk attracted greater numbers than last year, when 30,114 dogs and 45,000 people took part.
Among the special guests were South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck, the Mayor and Mayoress of South Tyneside, Coun Ken Stephenson and Cathy Stephenson, and the parents of Chloe Rutherford and Liam Curry, who died in the terrorist attack at the Manchester Arena last May.
In 28 years of the Great North Dog Walk, Mr Carlisle says £7.72million has been raised for charity, with more to follow following this year’s event.
It now appears that the influence of the South Shields-based walk will spread over the North Sea.
Mr Gillstrom said: “We came over to see how the event works, because we started a dog walk in Stockholm three years ago.
“We wanted to look at every aspect of it, from the organisation side of it to how the funds are generated for charities.
“We sat down and had a good chat with Tony, and it was very inspiring to hear how this event has grown.
“It was also inspiring to see how long Tony has been doing this and how he has been able to ensure the event continues to grow.”
Next year’s Great North Dog Walk is scheduled to take place on Sunday, June 2, 2019.
Mr Carlisle is hoping it will be bigger than ever – although this year’s event will take some beating.
He added: “It was a great day on Sunday, with the damp and cool weather perfect for the dogs.
“The event has become a spectacle on the national calendar and we’re hoping for another record turnout next year.”