Karen Eve (Castlegate Shopping Centre)

Name: Karen Eve

Organisation: Castlegate Shopping Centre

What does your organisation do?
I work on behalf of a landlord who manages community shopping centres. I’m manager of Castlegate Shopping Centre in Stockton, while I also do consultancy work and mentoring for other shopping centres including the Parkway Centre in Coulby Newham.

Why does your organisation support the Foundation?
We were doing a lot of charitable projects ourselves anyway but when we met (Foundation Chairman) Andy Preston we were inspired by how much more efficiently the Foundation could use the money we invest in such community work.

Which of our fundraising events has been your favourite?
We all absolutely love going to the Ball in October – getting dressed up and helping to raise lots of money is one of the highlights on our calendar. We also like the involvement of the CEO Sleepout and its work for The Fork in the Road restaurant. Through our sub-brand called Hampers from the Heart we’ve collected food for local foodbanks but we’ve also held all types of events. For instance, some old people can go up to two weeks without speaking to a single person, so we put on buses to take them to an event we organise with entertainment and a chance to socialise. Another one we do is for asylum seekers, some of whom arrive in the country such with only the coat on their back.

Which organisation are you most proud that we’ve supported?
Grandparents Plus is a fantastic charity – and we do like to help out when the Foundation contact us to say, for instance, a family is in desperate need of bedding or clothes for their six-year-old girl. We’ll go out and get a load of stuff from the stores in our shopping centre. As a mother myself, with children who have a relatively privileged upbringing, it breaks my heart that there are local children who don’t even have a bed to sleep in, so to be able to say ‘Yes, we can help to improve someone’s life’ is fantastic.

Tell us something your fellow Foundation supporters might not know about you personally?
I previously worked in commercial radio where I met a whole range of really dodgy C-list celebrities. More embarrassingly, I did the voiceover for a McDonald’s radio advert. I was offended when they said they wanted me to do it because they wanted someone with a broad Teesside dialect! Anyway, I told listeners that cheeseburgers were just 69p, which must make me some kind of dinosaur. Also when I was a child my claim to fame was that I once went on stage with the Wombles. I used to know all the songs. “Underground, over ground Wombling free…”

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