Steve Cram launches charity’s festive fundraising campaign in Sunderland

North East athletics legend Steve Cram has helped launch a charity’s festive fundraising campaign in Sunderland, in memory of two close family members.  Cram visited the Bridges shopping centre to hang the first bauble on the 2018 St. Benedict’s Dedication Christmas Tree.  Between now and Christmas, the public will be able to make a donation and add their own baubles to the tree.  Last year, the campaign raised over £12,000 for the hospice.

St. Benedict’s Hospice has been the official charity of the Siglion Sunderland City Half Marathon and 10K since 2017 and an agreement has just been signed to extend the partnership to 2020.  This is the second year that Steve Cram has placed the first bauble on the Dedication Christmas Tree, last year remembering his aunt, Joy Lynch, who was a regular volunteer at the Sunderland races, where she recruited a team of friends and family to hand out water and cheer on runners on Ryhope Road.  She died in 2016, after a brave battle against cancer.  This year Steve lost his dad Bill, after a long illness, and he was grateful for the opportunity to launch the fundraising campaign in memory of both Bill and Joy.

Steve Cram comments: “It is a privilege to be able to hang the first bauble on the tree again this year.  I sadly lost my dad back in January and along with the rest of the family we all appreciate the chance to be able to remember him and those loved ones who are no longer with us and who we continue to miss enormously.  I was so pleased to hear about the success of last year’s campaign and I know that the donations were put to very good use by the wonderful team at St. Benedict’s Hospice.  I hope that the public flock to the Bridges in the lead up to Christmas and help us raise even more this year.”

Catrina Flynn, head of fundraising operations at St. Benedict’s Hospice, comments: “It was delightful to once again welcome Steve to launch our 2018 Dedication Tree Appeal and we are so grateful to him for coming along to put a dedication on the tree in memory of his dad and late aunt.  The Dedication Tree Appeal is one of our most popular fundraising initiatives and last year raised £12,000 for St. Benedict’s.  However, it is about much more than raising funds for the hospice and also offers people the chance to remember someone they have lost at a time of the year which can often be quite difficult.  We couldn’t do this annual appeal without the generosity of the Bridges, the support of our Corporate Partners ResQ and Zest Gym and, of course, our loyal and dedicated band of volunteers who man the tree each and every day for the four-week period we are here.”

Samantha Czwordon-Auld, marketing and communications manager at the Bridges, comments: “We are delighted that St. Benedict’s Hospice has chosen the Bridges as the home for their Dedication Tree once again.  It is always a pleasure to host the hospice team.  Last year, our really generous shoppers’ dedication donations raised a staggering £12,000 for the hospice, and I’ve no doubt that the same generosity is shown again this year.  It’s a wonderful and often emotional addition to the centre and we were very proud that Steve was here once again to add the first bauble.”

The Dedication Tree is located near Primark in the Bridges, where shoppers can make a donation to the team of St. Benedict’s volunteers and write out a personal message on a bauble in memory of a loved one, and then hang it on the tree.  To find out more about St. Benedict’s Hospice, visit http://www.stbenedicts.co.uk.  Entries for the 2019 Run Sunderland Festival events are open at www.sunderlandcity10k.com – everyone who enters will be given the option of making a donation or agreeing to run in support of St. Benedict’s.