A South Tyneside charity champ has narrowly missed out on receiving a lifetime achievement accolade at a glittering awards ceremony. Founder of the Great North Dog Walk, Tony Carlisle was named as runner-up in the category at the National Diversity Awards held in Liverpool.
The event, held in The Anglican Cathedral, was attended by a number of celebrities - including actor Warwick Davis, known for playing characters Willow and Griphook in the Harry Potter films.
The 61-year-old, who has raised thousands for charity through his annual dog walk on the Leas, narrowly missed out taking the coveted award to GP Dr Lewis Turner who champions lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) causes.
He said: “The energy in the Cathedral was electrifying on the night with around 500 individuals who had been chosen from almost 25,000 nominees.
“There were people there from all walks of life under one roof. The whole evening was a true display of unity, acceptance and togetherness.
“I was proud to be shortlisted into a final group of eight. I would like to say thank you to everyone for their support and a special thank you to those individuals who took the time to nominate me.
I was proud to be shortlisted into a final group of eight. I would like to say thank you to everyone for their support and a special thank you to those individuals who took the time to nominate meTony Carlisle.
“However, the highlight of the evening was meeting actor Warwick Davis. He won “Celebrity of the Year” and we spent several minutes chatting. He had read my biography in the posh programme and called me his Hero. I felt humbled yet elevated! Memories I will cherish. A true gentleman.”
The dad-of-three from South Shields, has been the organiser of the Great North Dog Walk in South Shields since its formation in 1990.
He was one of eight people nominated for a lifetime achievement in the awards which celebrate unity in society.
The awards - which are hailed as the UK’s grandest celebration of diversity - feature a range of categories such as the positive achievement award for age and positive role model award for gender.
In 28 years of the Great North Dog Walk, Mr Carlisle says £7.72million has been raised for a range of charities - with more to follow following this year’s event.
Mr Carlisle says 33,149 dogs and 50,000 people took part in the latest Great North Dog Walk, which was held last month on the Leas, in South Shields.
This year’s event raised funds for the Chloe and Liam Together Forever Trust - created as a lasting legacy to South Tyneside sweethearts Chloe Rutherford and Liam Curry, who were killed in the Manchester Arena bomb attack last May.
Among the special guests was Oskar Gillstrom, who runs an annual walk in Stockholm, Sweden.
Mr Carlisle is set to start the race there next year.