A lifetime dedicated to helping others has been recognised with a Teesside Heroes Award for “inspirational” Stephen Mulholland.
The retired Cleveland fire-fighter has given up much of his spare-time helping those with disabilities for the past 40 years.
As chairman of the Middlesbrough Catholic Fellowship, Stephen leads a team of volunteers who run twice-weekly youth clubs and meetings for local people with additional needs.
He leads the planning, delivery and fundraising of two summer holidays, a Christmas party and pantomime and is also responsible for keeping the group’s two vehicles on the road.
It is such dedication that has earned him a Teesside Hero award from charitable movement, Middlesbrough and Teesside Philanthropic Foundation, together with £1,000 which he has donated to the Fellowship.
Stephen, from Linthorpe, has been volunteering his time since being invited to help out on a Fellowship holiday to Whitby when he was 18 years old.
He was a member of the choir at the old Middlesbrough Cathedral in 1976 when chaplain Fr Peter Ryan invited him to get involved in the group. He’s been hooked ever since.
Now at the age of 57, such is his affection for the group that Stephen plans to go on supporting a group that helps dozens of local people of all ages and faiths.
He said: “The Fellowship is like a big family. That’s the attraction for me. Everyone just accepts others the way they are. Everyone helps everyone else. You never see anyone struggle at the Fellowship.”
Despite never taking a penny for the many hundreds of hours he has dedicated to the group, Stephen insists: “I get loads more out of it than I put into it. I enjoy doing what I do.
“It’s a Catholic organisation but many of our members and most of our fundraisers aren’t Catholic, so it’s for all faiths and backgrounds.
“It’s not just me, of course, who puts the hours in. It’s a big team effort. I must mention Betty Harris, who leads the helpers who run our shop in Hemlington, without which we wouldn’t have the funds to run the group.”
After receiving his Teesside Heroes award in a surprise presentation, he reflected: “It’s a big surprise and I’m a bit embarrassed to win an award like this, to be honest. I usually prefer to be in the background but the Fellowship needs more volunteers so hopefully this publicity will help.”
Stephen received his Teesside Hero award from Gary Dawson, managing director of Philanthropic Foundation patrons AV Dawson, who described him as “an inspirational and fully merited winner.”
Fr Paul Farrer, who nominated Stephen for the accolade, said: “Ste has done this work quietly and without fuss for years. Others have come and gone but he has remained an inspiration to all. His dedication is a sure sign of him constantly preferring the needs of others to his own.
“The Fellowship brings families together so that they can build relationships that offer mutual support.
“People facing life with the complications that additional needs bring support each other and families are offered some regular and much needed respite time as care for their loved ones. Ste helps make all that happen.”
With the support of nearly 40 local businesses and individual patrons, the Philanthropic Foundation has raised £900,000 for Teesside good causes since its formation only four years ago.
- To nominate a Teesside Hero visit www.teessidecharity.org.uk. Recipients receive a trophy, a meal voucher for Mohoju’s restaurant in Billingham and £1,000 for a local good cause of their choice.