Brace yourself for news of a coastal invasion - not from Vikings, Scots, or Germans, but from an army of fundraisers making waves for their cause.
Hundreds of brave volunteers dodged paintballs and climbed giant haystacks in a charity assault course on Whitley Bay beach, while citizens from Blyth to Beadnell joined 3,000 litter-pickers across Britain scraping 8 tonnes of rubbish from the coast.
Surfers Against Sewage organiser Gabe Davies, 38, said: “After all the big storms we’ve been having, so much waste gets in, whether it’s marine waste from fishermen or litter blown from the coastline. Plastic is obviously one of our main concerns because it stays in the environment for so long and just continually breaks down over hundreds of years and gets ingested.
“But anything that gets flushed down the toilet instead of in the bin can end up going straight out to sea in a storm overflow. Pretty much whatever you can imagine will come in eventually – including things you just don’t want to see.”
Among the 40kg Blyth haul were car tyres, roofing insulation, fishing nets and wire, and even a not-so-canny bag of Tudors crisps from the 1980s – priced at 5p.
Fishing nets and wires can be fatal for birds and seals that get tangled in them, while even surfers are at risk from infections like hepatitis or even E. coli. carried in raw sewage.
Mr Davies said: “The coast is the last undeveloped place in the UK. There’s dolphins and whales and quite an amazing area of outstanding natural beauty just on the doorstep of Newcastle and the North East – so we really do want to take care of it.”
Meanwhile more than 900 people crawled through mud and mantled monkey bars for a range of charity causes. Sarah Wallace, 38, was part of a team raising money for leukemia research, inspired by 1-0-year-old Ben Charlton who is awaiting a bone marrow transplant.
Ms Wallace said: “The course was a challenge but he is a real tough cookie so having him cheer us on was what really kept us going. The hardest bit was getting hit by the paintballs. But as I said to everyone at the start, whtever we do is nothing compared to what Ben has to go through.”