Charity Champ Woody is a Teesside Hero

May 19th, 2015
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Teesside Hero Graeme ‘Woody’ Wood receives his award from Teesside Philanthropic Foundation patrons Elaine Bunn (far right) of Nortech and Emma Simkins (far left) of Henderson Insurance Brokers.

An unsung community champion who has raised more than £50,000 for local charities has been made a Teesside Hero.

Such is his passion for organising fundraising events for good causes, Graeme Wood of Billingham is known as the “go to person for charity nights”.

Known as “Woody” to friends, he has arranged dozens of events for charities including Butterwick Hospice, Beverley School for the Deaf, Make a Child Smile, The Wish Foundation, British Heart Foundation, Teenage Cancer Trust and the leukaemia and chemotherapy wards at North Tees General Hospital.

Friends and family were there to see him receive a surprise Teesside Hero award from representatives of charitable movement, Middlesbrough and Teesside Philanthropic Foundation, at the his local pub, The Merlin.

Woody said he felt “humbled” to receive the accolade, which include a trophy, a meal voucher for Billingham restaurant Mohujo’s and £1,000 for a Teesside good cause of his choice.

He received the award from Foundation patrons, Elaine Bunn of Nortech and Emma Simkins of Henderson Insurance Brokers.

Having chosen to split the cash between Stockton’s Butterwick Hospice and teenage cancer charity Butterfly Giving, Woody said: “I don’t step out for praise or reward. I just enjoy doing it and love seeing the faces on people I help.

“It’s humbling to be called a hero. The simple truth is that I don’t like to sit about doing nothing, so it’s really moving to think people have gone out of their way to nominate me for such an award.”

Woody got the fundraising bug after losing friend Andy Rosher to a brain tumour 10 years ago.

He arranged for local bands to play at a charity night in Andy’s memory, organising the venue and fundraising activities, whilst encouraging a big turnout on the night.

Woody recalled: “I was worried nobody would turn up but the night was a great success, raising £7,500 for Butterwick Hospice. That’s how I got started.”

Since then, he’s organised dozens of similar fundraisers, while he’s currently in training for his fourth Great North Run – though this time he will be joined by girlfriend Kath Green for the first time.

And his latest fundraiser, on June 27, is The Merlin Barrel Push, with more than 50 taking part in an afternoon pub crawl featuring fancy dress and a beer barrel, which will also take Billingham pubs, The Wolviston, King’s Arms, The Swan, The Station, Half Moon, The Astronaut and The Lion before finishing back at The Merlin.

While he’s helped dozens of different causes – often with the support of friends Pauline Fox Sudron and Corinne Sudron – the one closest to Woody’s heart remains Butterwick Hospice.

“The people who work there are unreal,” he says. “They are just so caring. It’s a special, very moving place. I think everyone knows someone who has been touched by it in some way.”

Friend Diane Williamson, who nominated Woody for the award, said: “Graham organises the entertainment, venues and fundraising activities for all these events – and they are always a sell-out! He has become the go-to person for charity nights for other Billingham.”

With the support of around 40 local businesses and individuals, the Philanthropic Foundation has raised more than £800,000 over the past four years for a wide range of Teesside good causes.

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