As we celebrate 10 years of the Philanthropic Foundation, founders Andy Preston and Tanya Garland (pictured here with our great supporter Alastair Powell) reminisce about the early days of our great charity…
Pride. That’s what Foundation founder Andy Preston feels when he allows himself a few seconds to think about the journey our charity has been on.
“Everyone involved in the charity, now or in the past, should feel really proud,” says Andy, who launched the Foundation in 2011 after discussing the idea with PR guru Tanya Garland and some local business contacts.
“It’s a pretty unique charity as it’s focused on getting money from Teessiders who are doing well and redistributing it locally to those who need it most. Everything we do is within about eight miles of the centre of Middlesbrough.
“The fact that so many people have been a part of the journey to raising more than £4 million over the years in a testament to Teesside pride and passion.”
Thinking back to how it all began, Andy recalls how a couple of years after moving back to the North-East and setting up businesses in his hometown, it struck him that he was in an enviable position to do something to help struggling locals.
“I’d been involved with a charity in London based on the patron model whereby everyone involved was prospering but would give a set amount each year to do incredible things.
“What I saw was that people got a lot out of it – once they started giving, they realised how enriching it was and how good it felt.
“We were heading into hard times on the back of the recession, council funding was being cut but some people were still doing well. Tanya and I shared ideas, sounded out a few people and it all began from there.”
Tanya, whose PR and branding firm Cool Blue was thriving, agrees: “2011 was a time of deep austerity and there was a clear need for extra help beyond what the government was providing for some.
“Andy had a vision of bringing together businesses across Teesside to help change the outcomes for the neediest people in our community. It was a compelling idea that we both got fully behind to turn into a reality.
“It felt so good to get involved in trying to make a positive impact, but I have to admit it was slow going in the early days.
“A lot of people thought we were on a hiding to nothing, but it was fun convincing them otherwise! Andy was relentless in mustering interest with business leaders, while myself and my team sorted out the communications, website and media relations as well as ideas and planning for events and stunts.
“Things gathered momentum as some of the big businesses in the region signed-up, but it was all very homespun and hopeful in the beginning.”
It’s a fantastic tribute to Teesside spirit and generosity that the Foundation has grown into the charitable powerhouse it is today but Tanya says it’s no to time for resting on laurels.
“It would be great if the Foundation could use this tenth anniversary to set and achieve even more ambitious new goals,” she smiles.
Now there’s a gauntlet to pick up and run with…