Festive dream comes true

Bob Waite and daughter Gayle pictured at the Headland before their canoe trip.
Bob Waite and daughter Gayle pictured at the Headland before their canoe trip.
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A WACKY fundraiser’s charity dream will come true next week when the “winter wonderland” he campaigned for comes to his village,

Chimney sweep Bob Waite will be a proud man when a festive extravaganza, including an ice rink, comes to Blackhall.

It will be opened at noon on Saturday, December 10, by TV agony aunt Denise Robertson and features a host of entertainment across two days, culminating in a grand concert on Sunday evening by Trimdon Concert Brass Band.

The 60-year-old has appeared regularly in the Hartlepool Mail over the past year describing how he has helped rake in thousands of pounds for the event at the former mining village.

Bob has thanked the community for helping him to raise £4,500 to bring the event to Blackhall Community Centre, in Hesleden Road.

The Mail reported in May how big-hearted Bob took part in a 60-mile bike ride along the length of the River Wear to raise funds for the cause.

He also organised a charity night at Blackhall Navy Club in September that saw the donations piling in.

Bob, a member of Peterlee and District Lions Club who is married to Denise and lives in the village’s Arnold Avenue, said: “I think the ice rink is a marvellous idea.

“Everything seems to be coming together now.

“Everybody seems to be on a high about it. “I would say Blackhall has probably never seen anything as big as this at Christmas time.”

Bob, whose previous charity stunts include “The Darwin Experience”, which saw him and daughter Gayle, 34, kayak from Hartlepool to Crimdon in 2009 and from Seaham Harbour to Hartlepool’s Heugh Breakwater and back last year to raise money for Peterlee Lions and the RNLI, said he hoped the community spirit felt while collecting sponsorship would continue at the event itself.

“I want to see as many people there as possible,” added Bob, who is also dad to Tracey Coverdale, 35.

“We want people from all over the area to see what they can do with a little community spirit.

“What I want is the community spirit which has been with me all through the year and for those who have helped me to come and enjoy it.”

The grandfather-of-three thanked all individuals, organisations and businesses for helping him reach his target.

As well as the 40ft x 33ft rink, the event will feature a host of entertainment, including an appearance from Santa, a Strictly Dance competition, Blackhall Youth Brass Band, magician, puppet show, face-painting, storyteller, balloon race, carol-singing, tombola, raffle, marshmallow-roasting, bouncy castle, games, stalls, car boot stands and tree-planting.

For more information about the event, call the centre on (0191) 5867396.