Millionaire meets miner

05.08.2009

Secret millionaire Carl Hopkins is to pay a return visit to a thriving County Durham community project, to see how a local water company is showing its support.

Business consultant Carl, who appeared on the Channel 4 programme in August 2008, spent ten days in Easington Colliery, discovering how life had changed in the former mining community.

At the end of his visit, he awarded £13,000 of his own money to the SPYRAL Project (Sandhills Project for Youth Recreation and Leisure), a community allotment garden in Murton, County Durham set up by former miner, Jimmy Naylor, seven years ago. Jimmy used money from his redundancy to fund the allotment.

Sixteen months after his stay in Easington, Carl, who has stayed in regular contact with Jimmy, is to return to the SPYRAL Project for the first time, after Northumbrian Water responded to the secret millionaire’s request for help to improve the allotment. The water company is to provide volunteers under its Just an hour programme.

Reporters and photographers are invited to meet secret millionaire Carl Hopkins, SPYRAL Project founder and secretary Jimmy Naylor and Northumbrian Water volunteers on Friday August 7, 2009 at 11.30am at the SPYRAL project, Sandhills, off Davison Crescent, Murton, SR7 9ES.

The SPYRAL Project has been a huge success in the local community, providing the opportunity to gain new skills and in tackling anti-social behaviour, especially in the young. The 18 allotments are self-funding, through the sale of bedding plants and organically-grown fruit and vegetables.

Carl said: “I was delighted when Northumbrian Water responded to my request for help. They rustled up a team of 19 volunteers who will dedicate a whole day to helping me, Jimmy and the kids transform an overgrown allotment area.”

Northumbrian Water’s Just an hour scheme gives employees the opportunity to spend at least 15 hours of paid, work time a year improving local communities in the company’s supply area - from Berwick to North Yorkshire and across to the Pennines.

Jane Morland, corporate responsibility team leader for Northumbrian Water, said: “We believe we have an important role to give something back to the areas we serve and our employee volunteering scheme, Just an hour, is one of the ways in which we support local communities and partners.

“Jimmy and Carl have been inspirational figures to work with and the community allotment garden is a shining example of a project that can benefit the entire community, especially the young.”

The Just an hour volunteers and young people at the SPYRAL project will be using a selection of garden tools kindly donated by B&Q in Sunderland.

Since the ‘Just an hour’ scheme was launched in 2002, Northumbrian Water employees have spent more than 29,000 hours working on local community projects and improving the environment.

For further information contact Leanne Clough on 0191 301 6733.

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