£3,000 raised for crash victim’s son

Michelle Swinton and her son Jack
Michelle Swinton and her son Jack

MORE than 300 people attended a charity night to raise vital funds for a four-year-old boy who lost his mum in a tragic car smash.

The event was held at the Peterlee Lodge Hotel in memory of Michelle Swinton, who was killed in an horrific crash earlier this month.

The 22-year-old was travelling in a Seat Ibiza driven by boyfriend Jamie Hall, 23, when the vehicle flipped over and crashed through a fence, before hitting a tree beside the A1086 Coast Road in Blackhall Rocks on February 5.

Soldier Jamie, a lance bombardier 4th Regiment of the Royal Artillery, based in Thirsk, North Yorkshire, and call centre worker Michelle, both of Blackhall, were pronounced dead at the scene.

The charity night, which was organised by Michelle’s friends, raised more than £2,000 to be placed in a trust fund for Michelle’s son Jack.

A further £900 was raised during a dance event at Blackhall Community Centre organised by Marilyn Bradshaw, a parent at Jack’s school, Hesleden Primary.

Michelle’s friends Gayle Dunn, Katie Lewins, Sarah Smithson, Lauren Hunter, Chantelle Travis and Amy Burns helped to organise the fundraiser.

Gayle, 31, who lives in Peterlee, but is originally from Hartlepool, said: “We never ever expected to raise so much.

“It was an absolutely brilliant night and the amount of people there just shows how popular Michelle was.

“Michelle’s parents didn’t feel up to speaking on the night, but I said a few words about how much the family appreciated everything.”

During the event, Jack’s dad, James Gilbertson, from Peterlee, was sponsored to have his legs waxed and James’ brother, Robert, who had flown over from Ireland for Michelle’s funeral also had his head and beard shaved.

Other male friends had their legs waxed and on the night, there was also a raffle, tombola and a guess the name of the teddy bear competition in which the name was John, Jack’s middle name.

Former English Martyrs School pupil Gayle, who is mum to Farren, 13, and Jarred, 11, added: “We have been overwhelmed by the support.

“The money has gone so far to help towards Jack’s future and possibly for him to go to university in the next 14 years.

“We should raise quite a lot over the years judging by this first event.”

Michelle’s friends are planning to do a sponsored parachute jump at Shotton Airfield in the summer.