Charity at heart of reunion

A HEART charity is set to benefit after former students rallied round the organiser of a regular reunion whose mother passed away recently.

Neil Appleyard’s mother Dorothy Rutherford, 86, of Arncliffe Gardens, in Hartlepool, passed away in July following a battle with heart problems.

Neil regularly organises reunions for anyone who attended Elwick Road Secondary Modern School in the town.

The 54-year-old has been organising the twice-yearly reunions for the past five years, and they are usually held in May or June and then again in December, at The Woodcutter pub, in Waverley Terrace, The latest gathering, on December 1, attracted around 50 people, despite the poor weather.

During the night there was a raffle, which raised £67 and this has been added to money collected following Neil’s mother’s death and totals £130 to be donated to the British Heart Foundation.

Neil, who is chairman of Hartlepool United Disabled Supporters’ Association (HUDSA), said: “I thought it would be nice to put everything together and give a donation to the British Heart Foundation.

“We had about 50 people there, which was quite good considering the weather.”

Dad-of-two Neil, who is married to Carol and lives on the town’s Brooke Estate, added that he found great comfort in organising the event following his sad loss.

“There was a lot of support on the night – people were asking me how things were, which was really lovely, and I thank them for that,” said Neil.

The get-together is also usually open to anyone who attended Brinkburn Comprehensive School between 1973-1977.

Neil, who organised a Christmas quiz for the event, said amongst those who attended were former teachers Bob McLeod and Ken Lupton, as well as ex-pupils Tony Teasdale and Brent Richardson.

There were plenty of familiar faces who have attended previous reunions, and John Matthews attended for the first time.

Previous reunions organised by Neil have seen donations collected for Hartlepool and District Hospice.