Dog walk in memory of popular Hartlepool man
Dog walkers stepped out in Hartlepool to raise cash for the town's hospice.
Don Stephenson was a well-known member of the Seaton Carew community and friends organised a charity beach dog walk in his memory at the weekend.
After battling cancer for four years, Don sadly died at the beginning of this month, aged just 67, due to secondary lung cancer.
The dad-of-two was a retired policeman who spent many hours out and about in Seaton walking his ten-year-old border collie, Taz.
Stacey Bennett-Harrington, became friends with Don due to regularly meeting him on the beach with their pets.
She said: “There’s a lot of us dog walkers that have become friends and after Don’s funeral we decided we wanted to raise money in his memory.
“We decided on a dog walk and although we only had six days to organise it, around 45 people turned up, which was amazing.
“We had about 25 dogs and they all wore a white ribbon.”
Dog groomer Stacey said they carried buckets and everyone they met was very generous and the group managed to raise more than £170 for Alice House Hospice, where Don sometimes went as a day patient.
After their one and a half hour walk the group enjoyed entertainment from a ukulele band, of which one of the fellow dog walkers is a member.
Stacey said: “It was quite a good amount we managed to raise in a couple of hours. Everyone had a really good time as well.”
Now, Stacey hopes to make the dog walk an annual event in memory of Don.
Don’s wife, Debra, 60, a retired NHS worker, said: “Don was such a lovely bloke, he made everyone feel comfortable and at ease.
“He was just that sort of person who made friendships easily.”
He was well known to the dog walkers and early risers in Seaton as he was usually out on the beach for his first walk with Taz at about 6.30am.
She said it was emotional seeing so many people, including former colleagues, turn out for the Sunday afternoon dog walk.
Debra said: “The day was phenomenal. It has been so humbling how kind people have been throughout the past few years.”
She said she would love to see the walk become an annual event because the hospice needs all the support it can get.