Support group founder in running for award

LEADING THE WAY: Pat Allison outside the Hartlepool Special Needs Support Group. (IRN
LEADING THE WAY: Pat Allison outside the Hartlepool Special Needs Support Group. (IRN

A SUPPORT group’s founder is in the running for an award – in the same year her charity is celebrating its 25th year.

Pat Allison admitted it was a “special surprise” to be in the hunt for a Best of Hartlepool award for her work as a community champion.

Pat is the founder of the Park Road-based Hartlepool Special Needs Support Group, which is 25 years old this year, but the modest group manager and co-ordinator said: “I have a great team of helpers throughout the year and I would not be able to do what I do without them.”

She also praised the children and young people who “make the group what it is”.

The Hartlepool Special Needs Support Group first met in the cloakroom of a hut with the aim of supporting families with children who have special needs.

In its first years, Pat ran it from home and said: “For 12 years, I ran it voluntarily from home and when it got bigger, we put in for lottery funding.”

As the group grew, it moved to its resource centre in Park Road and now represents more than 100 families across Hartlepool.

They get to take part in leisure trips, summer playschemes, pamper days and other weekly activities.

The group also has a performing arm, called Constellation and Friends.

The group was set up on September 29, 1989. In the early days, parents met each week at different venues across the town, in anything from school cloakrooms to community centres.

But the group has grown hugely since then and now owns its own resource centre.

For more details on the group and getting involved with it, contact the centre on (01429) 863766, visit or email info@

The nomination deadline for the awards has now passed. The next stage is for the Best of Hartlepool judges to meet, to draw up a shortlist in each of the categories which range from fundraiser of the year to child of courage, and green champion to local hero. Then, it’s on to the finals night ,which will be held at the Hardwick Hall Hotel in Sedgefield on Thursday, April 30.

We will be there to capture all of the highlights with photographs and interviews. Watch out for coverage of the awards finale online and in the Hartlepool Mail.