Alan Wright - A day to lift the spirits

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THERE are some days which really lift your spirits, and I had a classic recently.

I spent some time at the Percy Hedley School, which is based in Newcastle but does amazing work with youngsters from throughout the North-East, including Hartlepool and district.

One of the great things about the day was that it showed a practical use of the great sums raised by people throughout our patch for causes which really deserve it.

On behalf of the the Lord’s Taverners, I was delighted to celebrate our donation of £25,000 raised at functions across Northumberland and Durham.

Even in tight financial times for many people, the North-East never fails to come top of the league for real generosity.

In fact, in the not too distant future, we’ll be having a bit of a do to celebrate a grand total of one million pounds raised in our patch.

We have supported the Percy Hedley school several times over the years, and a visit there is a powerful reminder of the reasons why.

The school works with children in the region who have a huge range of physical, psychological and emotional needs.

One young lad we met summed up the scale of the need – and the brilliance of the response from staff with enormous reserves of skill, technique and love for the children they work with, often on a one-to-one basis.

This particular five-year-old has a daily programme which is helping him to regain his physical control and develop his learning and ability to improve his whole world.

Some of the kit we saw is mind-blowing. One gadget looks like a small laptop and has sections on screen which can recognise when a child is holding his gaze on them, triggering the computer to open up new pages or perform tasks.

The sheer effort needed to work in this field is staggering, but the whole school is full of smiling faces and top notch people.

Our donation on this occasion was to provide multi-sensory equipment in the hydrotherapy pool and it was a real delight to see the joy it brings to the children and the staff and volunteers who work with them (see picture).

We were shown around by senior physiotherapist Anna Coates and old friend Des Bustard who looks after the fund-raising side and they seemed to know every child by name.

Every day of the week, superb work like that of the Percy Hedley School is going on – often largely unseen and not always widely appreciated.

In towns like Hartlepool and throughout our region, an army of fantastic people are supporting youngsters whose lives would be much poorer without them.

I often have the chance to see the inside story, and I feel highly privileged to have enjoyed that day in Newcastle.