Community Champion Paul is crowned a Teesside Hero

March 26th, 2014

Paul Burgum (left) receives his Teesside Heroes Award from Anthony McCarthy of Philanthropic Foundation patrons Macks Solicitors, while Ian Richardson holds a £1,000 cheque Paul has donated to the Jo & Mya Memorial Fund.

Unsung community champion Paul Burgum, who has raised more than £100,000 for good causes as well as running his own charity to inspire young people, is the March winner of a Teesside Heroes Award.

The big-hearted Billingham man said he “couldn’t be more proud” when receiving the award from local charitable movement, the Middlesbrough and Teesside Philanthropic Foundation.

Having received as part of his prize a £1,000 cheque to donate to a Teesside good cause of his choice, Paul immediately added it to £4,000 he had already raised for the Jo and Mya Memorial Fund.

He recently returned from a six-week trip walking the full length of Italy – some 1,100 miles – to raise the funds for the charity.

Set up by Ian Richardson after he lost his wife and xx-year-old daughter in a tragic car crash, The Jo and Mya Memorial Fund has raised £100,000 towards a counselling programme for children whose loved ones pass away or are terminally ill.

The charity also aims to set up a training programme for teachers to allow them to give improved assistance to children who are suffering from bereavement.

Paul also received a Teesside Heroes trophy and dinner vouchers for the Brasserie at Hudson Quay, while he will also receive a place on Middlesbrough FC’s Boro Brick Road with his brick inscribed ‘Paul Burgum – Teesside Hero’.

On receiving his award at a presentation evening at Billingham Rugby Club, Paul admitted: “I’m stunned for words – and it’s not often you can say that! I’m a proud Teessider, so this is a really cool title to be given. To be honest, having a place like that on the Boro Brick Road means a lot to me.”

On his decision to donate the £1,000 charity cheque to the Jo & Mya Memorial Fund, he said: “I’m a loud and proud sufferer from depression, so supporting this fund seemed entirely appropriate.

“Ian is inspiring. To come through so much and still want to help others is pretty amazing really. If Ian can achieve all he has after all he has had to go through then that can only give hope to others. He is living proof that, with the right support, people can come back.”

He added: “People think I’m very generous but I’m actually quite selfish because I get a buzz out of fundraising. Believe me, there is no drug out there that gives you the same high you get from helping other people.”

Philanthropic Foundation chairman Andy Preston, who nominated the fundraiser for the Teesside Heroes Award, said: “I was not alone in wanting to see recognition for Paul’s incredible community work and passion for Teesside. We need to champion people who go beyond the call of duty and what they can paid for to make Teesside a better place.”

One of four brothers and a talented rugby player who represented Billingham, Stockton, England North and the national under-21 side, Paul set up BCT Aspire 10 years ago this summer to raise the aspirations of youngsters in Billingham and beyond.

He explained: “Me and my brothers had some tough times in our childhood but we were lucky enough to get into sport, where some amazing people looked after us and became mentors for life.

“Looking back on my childhood made me realise how powerful getting into sport can be. I count myself very lucky to have found sport. It helps you deal with other issues in your life. So BCT Aspire runs youth sessions to give kids a chance to get into sport and music.”

With the help of £3,500 in funding from the Philanthropic Foundation two years ago, BCT Aspire set up at youth space at the Synthonia Club in Billingham, converting a former bookmakers shop into a small kitchen and area for delivering music sessions.

“I can say with confidence that we’re up to 100 grand raised over the last 10 years,” added Paul. “I’d love to expand BCT Aspire across Teesside eventually but I’m Billingham-born and bred so where better to start than where you are from?

Incredibly, Paul has also found time to raise another £100,000 for other local charities, helping fund an extension for the specialist equipment needed for Billingham youngster Cole Lancaster following a diagnosis of cerebral palsy.

He walked 400 miles from Portsmouth to Billingham with his dog, a terrier called Meg, to raise money for Cole and the Great North Air Ambulance.

He also undertook a 480-mile trek from the Orkney Islands to Billingham to raise money for Bridges Stockton, a charity that supports families of people with drug and alcohol problems. The walk was conducted in memory of Paul’s uncle, David Crockett, a former engineer who battled with alcoholism and depression before being murdered in his Redcar flat in 2010.

Other fundraisers have helped the fight against prostate cancer and raise further money for epilepsy charities.

Set up to make Teesside a better place to live, work and do business, the Philanthropic Foundation is asking members of the public to nominate more community champions for a Teesside Heroes award. Nominations can be made via email on Please include the nominee’s name and up to 300 words on why they deserve the accolade.

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