Hartlepool shop boss helps raise thousands for sick babies

A Hartlepool store manager helped to raise thousands of pounds for seriously ill babies by cycling almost 130 miles in just two days.

Thursday, 2nd May 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Thursday, 2nd May 2019, 8:51 am
Gemma Hewitson outside the Marina branch of Boots before the sponsored cycle ride in aid of Zoe's Place baby hospice.

Gemma Hewitson, who is manager of Boots in Middleton Grange shopping centre, joined colleagues who saddled up in aid of local babies’ hospice Zoe’s Place.

The team of five riders set off from Boots at Hartlepool’s Anchor Retail Park and over the next two days rode to all 28 branches between the town and Stokesley.

Gemma Hewitson, right, and fellow riders Tim Worth, Mark Ramshaw, Megan Fawkes and Stephen Fulton are cheered on by staff from Boots and Exercise4less as they take part in the sponsored ride In aid of Zoe's Place.

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They are on course to raise £20,000 for Zoe’s Place, which provides care to babies and infants aged from birth to five years who have life-limiting or life-threatening conditions.

Gemma said: “I haven’t done any exercise for six years. It was hard, but the thought of knowing that you are doing something good for the hospice and the babies just keeps you going.”

Along the way stores held fundraising activities which were well supported by generous customers.

Branches held raffles, tombolas and cake sales, while staff in Hartlepool racked up the miles in store on exercise bikes provided by town gym Xercise4Less.

A raffle was among the fundraising events held in aid of baby hospice Zoe's Place.

Gemma added: “Every store that we went to it was like a meet and greet.

“It was just lovely and we were made to feel very humble. People were coming into stores just to put money into tubs.

“It was overwhelming the amount of staff and public support we received.”

Mark Ramshaw of the Skipper’s Lane, Middlesbrough, branch planned the route.

Chris Richardson from Xercise4Less times Boots customer adviser Jason Balderson as he rides the exercise bike in aid of Zoe's Place baby hospice.

On the first day the team, made up all of Boots managers, clocked up 70 miles.

They completed the final 58 miles on day two, finishing at Zoe’s Place in Middlesbrough.

Zoe’s Place corporate fundraiser Sue Fox said: “We were so excited when we heard that Boots were coming on board with our Tour De Branch campaign, and even more so when we heard that 28 branches would be taking part with the fundraising.

“The money raised couldn’t come at a better time for us, especially with the downturn in funding and donations we have experienced lately.

The Boots cyclists end their challenge at Zoe's Place baby hospice.

“Every penny will go towards helping us keep the doors of the hospice open for the babies and children that rely on our care.

“We really can’t thank the staff of Boots enough, as well as all the customers who gave so generously in their support.”

Details about the Tour De Branch can be found at www.readyteddygo.online