Comedy duo get into ′a fine mess′ for charity

Andrew Blakemore and Ivan Jepson as comedy duo Laurel and Hardy


Internationally renowned comedy duo, Laurel and Hardy, are set to make a comeback to take part the region’s biggest sporting event.

Northumbrian Water employees Andrew Blakemore, 46, from Spennymoor, County Durham and Ivan Jepson, 45, from Hexham, Northumberland, will tackle the Great North Run dressed as the comedians to raise money for the water company’s adopted international charity, WaterAid.

The pair, who will wear the famous bowler hats and dungarees, are joining six other employees from the utility company who will be part of a 62 strong fundraising team.

WaterAid provides the world’s poorest people with basic human rights – access to water, sanitation and hygiene education.

Last year the WaterAid runners raised more than £40,000 for the charity and are on track to double that figure this year with help from the government.

WaterAid’s current fundraising campaign, ‘To be a girl’, highlights the plight of millions girls in the developing world who are suffering every day due to the lack of clean water, effective and safe sanitation and hygiene education.

The UK Government has agreed to match all money raised through the campaign, by September 9 2014. The runners money will be doubled and will save at least 3,000 lives – it costs WaterAid an average of £15 to provide someone with clean water, effective and safe sanitation and hygiene education.

Northumbrian Water’s WaterAid committee Chairman, Andrew Blakemore, said: “The people of the North East are incredibly generous and support us in many ways, just lately by sponsoring a couple of us who are running the Great North Run as Laurel and Hardy, and then moving on to doubling the distance by running the Kielder Marathon in October.

“The training is hard for us middle aged men, however it’s nothing compared to the struggle some girls have on a daily basis just to survive. Our efforts will change the lives of about 300 people, now that’s got to be worth losing a few toenails for.”

Northumbrian Water has been a passionate supporter of WaterAid for more than thirty years and raised £231,000 last year through activities and events.

Andrew added: “Life without access to clean water and toilets is tough for everyone, but girls and women are affected the most. Girls from as young as five years old spend hours every day, often in searing heat, collecting water which can weigh the same as their body weight.”

Northumbrian Water Occupational Health Advisor, Rob Hedley, will be running the half marathon dressed in the iconic WaterAid toilet costume. He added: “This is a worthwhile charity for me to run for with realistic goals that we can all be part of.

“Just imagine everyone in the world having clean, safe tap water to drink and decent toilets and how that can help with world development and change the world! WaterAid is showing us realisation of what can be achieved by 2030 and I want to be part of that.”

The rest of the Northumbrian WaterAid team are Jodie Mercer, Chris Johns, and Esh Group contractors, Jonathan Chambers, Alan Croft, and Richard Nattress.

To watch a short film about the campaign, which is aiming to raise £1 million and change the lives of 130,000 girls, log onto

For more information contact Janine Scott on 0191 301 6713 or


WaterAid’s vision is of a world where everyone has access to safe water and sanitation. The international organisation works in 26 countries across Africa, Asia, Central America and the Pacific Region to transform lives by improving access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation in some of the world’s poorest communities. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 19.2 million people with safe water and, since 2004, 15.1 million people with sanitation. For more information, visit, follow @wateraidUK on Twitter or visit us on Facebook at

• Around 1,400 children die every day from diseases caused by dirty water and poor sanitation.
• 748 million people world live without safe water. This is roughly one in ten of the world′s population.
• 2.5 billion people have no access to sanitation; this equates to two in five people.
• For every £1 invested in water and sanitation, an average of £4 is returned in increased productivity.
• Just £15 can enable one person to access a lasting supply of safe water, improved hygiene and sanitation.

About UK Aid Match
UK Aid Match was set up by the UK government’s Department for International Development (DFID) to give a boost to public support for charities working in the developing world. It doubles public donations to appeals run by British international development charities, in recognition of both the public’s generosity and the wide range of causes they support.

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