A DETERMINED fundraiser managed to stay off the booze for a year – despite being the main organiser for a popular beer festival.
Round Tabler Graeme Smith has just completed a full year without alcohol and in doing so raised almost £6,000 for Hartlepool & District Hospice.
Dad-of-one Graeme, 40, who has just completed his year as chairman of Hartlepool Round Table, decided he was not going to let a drop of booze pass his lips for 12 months from April last year.
And his audacious challenge is now complete.
Graeme, a harbour pilot, admits the first and last month without alcohol were tough.
He said: “I am by no means a big drinker, but it is nice being able to have a pint every now and again.”
His fellow Round Table members did give him “a bit of a ribbing” when the lads were enjoying social evenings together, but Graeme stayed committed to the cause, kept his eye on the prize and in doing so raised the hugely impressive amount for the Wells Avenue-based hospice.
He has so far raised £5,851, short of his original £10,000 target, but people can still donate now and help to boost the total even more.
Graeme, who lives in the Bishop Cuthbert area of Hartlepool with wife Amanda, 34, a childminder and their daughter, Hannah, nine, a pupil at Clavering Primary School, in the town, chose a double malt whisky as his first drink at a recent charity event and followed it up with “a few pints”.
After a year on the wagon, he admitted he did not feel all that fresh the next morning.
“It hasn’t been as hard as I thought it would be,” said Graeme.
“The first and the last month were quite tough, but other than that it wasn’t too bad.
“It helps when you know you are supporting a local charity such as the hospice.”
The end of Graeme’s challenge also marked the end of his year as chairman of Hartlepool Round Table.
He described his time in charge as “fantastic” and said the ever-popular beer festival, which also supported the hospice, and the 75th birthday of the group were among the highlights.
Round Table members must be 45 or younger and Graeme said he is looking forward to his next five years as a member and called upon others to join the group.
He said: “Joining up has a range of benefits.
“Chief among them is giving something back to the community, but there’s also the benefit of meeting new people, improving your social circle and networking.”
Hospice staff thanked Graeme and fellow Round Table members for a tremendous year of fundraising.
Greg Hildreth, events and community facilitator said: “Graeme has been a tremendous fundraiser for our charity over the last year and it has been great to get to know him and all at the Round Table who have supported his hard work.
“On behalf of everyone at the hospice, I’d like to extend our sincerest thanks and congratulations on such a successful twelve months.”
To donate visit www.hartlepoolmail.co.uk and select the link on the website version of this story.