Business competition raises nearly £50,000 for North East charity

Percy Hedley Foundation

26 July 2013

Northumbrian Water has won a brand new business competition organised by our region’s leading disability charity.

It comes after the Percy Hedley Foundation announced earlier this year that it was throwing down the gauntlet and issuing a challenge to local companies.

As a leading charity supporting children, young people and adults with cerebral palsy and other disabilities, the Foundation invested £500 into sixteen businesses that signed up for the inaugural Challenge 500 project.

Over the past six-months the companies have used their skills to turn that investment into as much money as they can and today they handed back the £500 to the Percy Hedley Foundation, plus any other money they had raised.

The winner, Northumbrian Water, raised an amazing £13,000. They organised a number of quirky fundraising events including a Night at the Museum, where families got the chance to have a sleepover at the Great North Museum. They also held a successful world record attempt for a new cardio workout.

Victoria Erickson, Water Production Graduate Trainee at Northumbrian Water, said: “The graduate team was thrilled to become part of such a rewarding and enterprising challenge. We all joined the company last year and we were keen to support a North East charity. After visiting Percy Hedley and meeting a number of the disabled people they support it was an easy decision to take part in Challenge 500.”

She continued: “We’re absolutely thrilled to have won this competition and it has been a great six months for all of us. But without a doubt the best part has been raising so much money for a fantastic charity like Percy Hedley. Northumbrian Water is passionate about supporting communities it serves and our ability to take part in Challenge 500 reflects this.”

Another company, Lazy Grace design studio in Northumberland, won the Thinking outside the box award. They organised an event called the Simonside Challenge as part of their campaign. The challenge, which was a downhill soapbox race, saw teams racing homemade carts through the beautiful Simonside Hills. A soapbox is a motorless vehicle capable of holding a driver that is propelled by gravity.

Ian McAlister, from Lazy Grace, said: "We like to do things a little differently at Lazy Grace so we all put our thinking caps on to try and come up with an imaginative fundraising idea. We thought the Simonside Challenge was a really exciting idea and we were thrilled so many local companies signed up for the race."

He continued: "It was a really fun event and we are thrilled to have won this award but it also had a very serious purpose and that was to raise as much money as possible for the Percy Hedley Foundation. I′ve been lucky enough to visit the charity and the services they provide to disabled people are amazing."

The competition was also entered by businesses across most sectors including HSBC, Bond Dickinson LLP, Ryder Architecture and Sitel call centre, which is part of Capital One Bank.

Other well known national and regional companies such as Barclays PLC, Ward Hadaway LLP, Mincoffs Solicitors, Elliot Dent, Hay and Kilner Solicitors and Gordon Brown Law Firm also signed up for the challenge.

The Challenge 500 line up was completed by Stokoe Rodger, Irwin Mitchell, Amazing Leisure and Asian Business Connexions.

The competition results were announced on the same day that the Office for National Statistics announced the UK economy saw an estimated GDP growth of 0.6% in the second quarter. The figure matched market expectations and comes on top of 0.3% growth in the first three months of 2013. It was the first time since 2011 that the UK has seen back-to-back quarterly increases.

James Ramsbotham, Chief Executive of the North East Chamber of Commerce, has been throwing his weight behind the charity′s campaign.

He said: “It is remarkable that on the day the latest GDP announcement was made the Percy Hedley Foundation learnt that the companies taking part in its Challenge 500 business competition had been able to turn the £500 seed funding they had received into such profit for the charity.

Not only has this challenge been a superb team building exercise and an ideal way for companies to achieve their corporate social responsibilities, while having lots of fun, but it has brought many other business benefits to the companies and their staff."

He continued: "I′ve supported the Percy Hedley Foundation for a number of years and the money this project has generated will be a huge boost to the services they offer to disabled people."

Julie Calvert, Head of Marketing, Communications and Income Generation at the Percy Hedley Foundation, said: “I know the Challenge 500 teams have had a lot of fun competing against each other to deliver the most profitable activities and to have raised nearly £50,000 is an amazing result. But being involved in the project has brought about a number of other benefits to the companies involved and their staff. I have been told of the great team building that has gone on throughout the six months of the challenge, the understanding of the need to communicate and promote their ideas, to challenge decisions to ensure they are the right ones to make when dealing with another organisations money and last but by no means least the need to ensure a good profit margin at the end of the project.”

She continued: “The staff and service users at The Percy Hedley Foundation are very grateful for all the hard work and effort from all the teams and it is thanks to them that this project has been such a success. Every year we support 1,000 disabled children, young people, adults and their families and this money will really help us to continue with that vital work.”

Today the charity also announced plans for Challenge 500 2014. If you would like to find out more please contact Sheila Coltman on (0191) 238 1321 or email

Picture : Children enjoying a Night at the Museum

The Percy Hedley Foundation is a registered charity. Founded in 1953 as a specialist school for children with cerebral palsy; the aim of the Foundation is to ensure that children and adults with a disability learn the skills to be independent as possible and enjoy full and active lives.

For a full list of our services visit our website

For further information please contact Julie Calvert - Telephone: 0191 2381325 or 07587104053

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