A CIVIC leader has spoken of his delight after raising a record-breaking £40,000 for seven Hartlepool charities during his municipal year in office.
Labour councillor Stephen Akers-Belcher, chairman of Hartlepool Borough Council, said he is proud to have “restored pride” back to civic life and praised everyone who helped raise the final amount over the past 12 months.
It smashed the previous record of £36,000, held by the late Labour councillor Harry Clouth when he was mayor in 1998-1999.
The seven groups to share the money are the Belle Vue Youth project, Central Correctors, Hartlepool Young Carers, NYPD (Nurturing Young People’s Development), The Phoenix Funsters, The Rifty Youth Project and the Wharton Annexe.
Speaking at a ceremony inside the council chamber, Coun Akers-Belcher said: “Firstly, I would like to thank everyone who has helped me to raise such a significant amount for very worthy, young people’s charities in Hartlepool.
“The support across the town and beyond has been amazing.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my year as the ceremonial chairman of Hartlepool Council.
“For me there have been many highlights but the bit I have enjoyed the most is meeting lots of really nice people and working closely with the seven local children and young people’s charities which I chose to be the beneficiaries of my fundraising year.
“This event provides evidence that there are lots of children and young people in our town who work exceptionally hard to create a positive community spirit and I have no doubt that the money they have received will be well used by the organisations and enable them to develop even further for the benefit of our town.”
Coun Akers-Belcher had initially hoped to raise £2,000 for each charity but they have each now received more than £5,500.
The Labour councillor is due to become ceremonial mayor next week under the new council system and he is already looking ahead to next year.
His chosen charities for 2013-14 are Macmillan cancer support, Denise Taylor Cancer Trust and Pansies breast cancer support group.
Representatives from all of the groups paid tribute to Coun Akers-Belcher at the ceremony, while the Conservative group leader, councillor Ray Wells, said: “The amount you have raised is phenomenal.
“Along with your consort, councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher, you’ve done a great job and are a real credit to the town of Hartlepool.”
Individuals and groups who had supported the fundraising drive were presented with certificates.
Fundraising events included the Hartlepool Male Voice Choir and Hartlepool Ladies Choir performing together for the first time, an evening of clairvoyance, raffles, tombolas and quizzes, the auctioning of the James Brown dancing doll donated by Sky Sports broadcaster Jeff Stelling and selling chair bear pin badges.