Ponteland dad nominated for prestigious award

A PROUD son secretly nominated his father for a prestigious award to recognise his fundraising for soldiers and their families.

Tony Hodson, 51, pauses near the peak of the highest mountain in Argentina Aconcagua
Tony Hodson, 51, pauses near the peak of the highest mountain in Argentina Aconcagua

A PROUD son secretly nominated his father for a prestigious award to recognise his fundraising for soldiers and their families.

Joshua Hodson, 15, was so impressed with his father Tony’s charity work for Help For Heroes he nominated him for Just Giving’s Fundraiser of the Year award.

However, the pupil at Newcastle’s School for Boys in Gosforth didn’t tell anyone what he had done until he got the call from charity organisation Just Giving telling him his father had been shortlisted.

And father-of-three Tony will now attend a ceremony at the Emirates Stadium in London.

“I was genuinely taken aback and very pleasantly surprised but I think the first thing I thought was is this a wind up,” he said.

“He came into the room and he said he had some news for me, and when a 15-year-old boy says that you do not know what to expect.”

Tony, 52, of Darras Hall in Ponteland, raised more than £15,000 for Help For Heroes after scaling the world’s highest peak outside the Himalayas. He spent 16 days on a triumphant ascent to the summit of 6,962-metre high Aconcagua in Argentina’s Andes mountain range last January.

It involved a three-day trek in sweltering, desert-like conditions to reach base camp, risking altitude sickness while lugging heavy packs up the mountain and surviving a last-minute weather scare which resulted in half of his group failing to complete the push to the summit.

He reached the top and flew the Help For Heroes banner over the top.

Speaking of his nomination Tony, who runs his own people development consultancy, said: “I was actually quite shocked and I had no idea about any award and it is not really me, to be honest. I was not looking for any recognition.

“I just feel the case of the service men and women is very just and they need all the help they can get.”

Tony was inspired to raise funds for Help For Heroes by Major Phil Packer, the former Army officer who completed the London Marathon on crutches after being injured in a rocket attack in Iraq which left him without the use of his legs.

He had pledged to raise £1 for each metre of Aconcagua’s height but he has now doubled his original target. Tony also paid tribute to all those who helped and supported him through his fundraising mission.

He said: “Without their commitment, support and engagement to my summit attempt, we would not have smashed the original target by 190%, the proceeds of which, I’m sure, have been put to great use by the team at Help for Heroes.”

Tony developed his passion for mountaineering in the 1990s and has climbed throughout the world, and numbers Mount Kilimanjaro among his conquests.

The awards ceremony will be held on February 10, when the winner and runners-up within each category will be announced.

Anne-Marie Huby, managing director at JustGiving, said: “The JustGiving Awards are our opportunity to celebrate all the people who do the most amazing, creative and even crazy things in the name of charity.

“We were incredibly impressed by the standard of entries this year – more than 500 in total – and we are delighted to honour the efforts of our fundraising community.”

More information can be found about fundraising heroics by visiting www.justgivingawards.com

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