WILLO TALK: People put the heart into Hartlepool

I’VE written in this column before that the generosity of the people of Hartlepool never ceases to amaze me.

It’s no secret that there’s not a lot of money floating about, despite the jobs figures moving in the right direction unemployment is still a problem and just last week I wrote an article about families struggling to afford food during the summer holidays.

Hartlepool has more than its fair share of issues, and while some will be resolved quicker than others sometimes it’s too easy to focus on the negatives.

Over the last week, I’ve been involved with two stories which I wish I didn’t have to write.

The first one was about Sonny Wood, a three-year-old town boy who was recently diagnosed with leukaemia.

Within hours of his mum posting the news on Facebook, fundraisers had been set up and people were putting their hands in their pockets to boost an online campaign.

This wasn’t after some nationwide campaign either, it was purely down to word of mouth and the people of Hartlepool rallying round.

The second article was centred around young Mark Bell, a 14-year-old who has shown maturity beyond his years following the tragic death of his young sister Becky.

Becky was just seven when she lost her cancer battle, and Mark has struggled to come to terms with her loss.

But while many boys of his age will be spending their summer holidays out playing football in the street or catching up with the latest games on their XBox, Mark is putting the finishing touches to a fundraising walk around Summerhill at 11am this Sunday.

Completely off his own bat, Mark has arranged the walk himself, choosing a route which is suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs and people of all shapes and sizes.

All he is asking in return is a £5 donation to take part – he doesn’t want people to have the hassle of asking for sponsor money and then chasing round to collect it all in.

The reason he is doing it is to help families who are going through the same ordeal as him and his family did during Becky’s illness.

Both Mark and Sonny took part in Miles for Men on Sunday, joining hundreds of others to raise cash to fight cancer.

I can’t speak highly enough of them, or the others who took part.

And to pinch an idea from Miles for Men organiser Micky Day, they should change the spelling of this town to Heartlepool.