A blessing of love for Colin

Angela Sawtell with her dad Colin
Angela Sawtell with her dad Colin

A DAD-OF-THREE who has tirelessly converted a former nightclub into a haven for the Hartlepool community says it was a calling from God which led him to town.

Colin Sawtell, 57, has spent countless hours converting a former nightclub in Whitby Street into a pentecostal church complete with an eight-bedroom hostel, food bank, cafe and community centre.

It’s been a £600,000 labour of love but the Bootle man, who rarely gets time to travel home and see his family, told the Mail: “This is where God told me to come.”

The building is now called the Elim Pentecostal Church and Colin is its reverend. As well as a church, it offers a home for rehabilitating people with drug and alcohol problems.

“They come from areas including Hartlepool, Peterlee, Billingham and Stockton,” said Colin who is married to Maggie, 54, and dad to Angela, 26, James, 24, and Danielle, 20.

The project also helps people with food parcels and it has a community centre in the basement.

But Colin is the type of man who works tirelessly to help others, said his daughter Angela who has nominated him for a Pride of Hartlepool award.

Angela, who works in a contact centre in Bootle for Santander, said: “He has put his heart and soul into improving the community of Hartlepool for the last eight years. He gives all the time he has to improving the lives of those people less fortunate than others.

“I am nominating my dad as he is too modest to even expect a thank you, but he spends most of his time away from us, his family, in order to try and make the world a better place and we are all so proud of him.”

She added: “When he first got this, it did look like an old nightclub with disco balls. He has created the whole thing.”

Colin becomes the latest entrant in the competition in which entries have flooded in.

This year there are 10 categories in which you can nominate the unsung heroes in the town.

Whether you know a fantastic fundraiser or a community stalwart, we want to hear all about those who deserve praise and have done something special.

Simply fill in the form on this page and send it to us or you can enter online or on tablet by following the links.

Details of how to get them to us are on the nomination form. The deadline for entries is February 27.

Anyone wanting further information about the Pride of Hartlepool Awards should contact the Mail’s deputy editor, Gavin Foster, on (01429) 239372 or email gavin.foster@jpress.co.uk