Hope out of tragedy

Pride of Northumberland awards night at Linden Hall, Morpeth-Fundraiser of the Year award. 'REF 1209137817
Pride of Northumberland awards night at Linden Hall, Morpeth-Fundraiser of the Year award. 'REF 1209137817
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A father who raised £27,000 for charity after his wife died from a rare complication of childbirth took the Fund-raiser of the Year Award.

In 2011 Mark Robertson, 33, faced raising his newborn daughter Niamh on his own after wife Helen, 32, died from an amniotic fluid embolism, never getting the chance to meet her daughter.

Mark quickly decided that he wanted to achieve something positive in Helen’s memory and decided that he would cycle to Paris, their favourite city, from their home in Ashington, aiming to raise £10,000 for Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, Helen’s favourite charity, and the AFE Foundation, which offered support after her death.

At this point Mark did not even own a bike. He trained for a year, combining this with bringing up his new daughter, holding down a full-time job and grieving for the huge loss he has faced.

He set off with a friend just after the first anniversary of Helen’s death and Niamh’s first birthday, cycling well over 500 miles from Woodhorn Museum to the Eiffel Tower.

After six days, Mark and his friend reached the Eiffel Tower after what was a gruelling and emotionally-draining journey.

Mark said: “It is really nice to be nominated and honoured, I totally didn’t expect it.

“It doesn’t change anything but it is nice that people recognise what has happened and what we have achieved.

“It wasn’t just me, a lot of people have run events and fund-raised and we tripled what we expected to raise.”

Flowers from the awards night were sold raising £105 which was given to Mark’s charity.

Also shortlisted were Amble Lifeboat Fund-raisers, who raise money to keep the lifeboats in Amble running; Lynn Sturgeon, 42, from Ashington, and her family who have worked tirelessly to raise money for Breast Cancer Care with the total so far standing at £42,000, and Glenn Middlemas, 55, from Stakeford, who, raise funds all year round for Support our Soldiers.