A caring dad is the first in the region to receive a special award from Prime Minister David Cameron.
Today Ivan Hollingsworth was given the Point of Light accolade, which recognises volunteers who are making a change in their community and inspiring others.
The prestigious award has been developed by the Prime Minister and Ivan has been honoured for the money he has raised for Newcastle Freeman Hospital’s Children’s Heart Unit Fund (CHUF).
The 38-year-old of Monkseaton, Whitley Bay, said: “I feel honoured and privileged to have been recognised for my fundraising for CHUF by David Cameron.
“It feels a little surreal to read the Prime Minister talking about you and your family, but the increased profile it brings to CHUF and the children’s heart unit at the Freeman is amazing.
“I want to recognise the surgeons, doctors and nurses at the Freeman, everyone who has helped our fundraising for the last five years, and most importantly my wife Nadine and son Seb for giving me love, support and fuel to continue. Their names should be on this award also.”
Father-of-one Ivan was inspired to help the Freeman’s children’s heart unit after staff saved his young son’s life.
Little Seb was born in 2009 with a congenital heart condition. This resulted in him undergoing six hours of open heart surgery at only 16 weeks old in order to save his life. Since then Ivan and his wife Nadine have tirelessly campaigned to raise funds to purchase much needed equipment, aftercare and research.
So far Ivan has raised a staggering £343,000 to fund the rebuilding of a play room and outside play area at the Freeman’s children’s heart unit.
This has been achieved by events such as running 100 miles in just 24 hours, organising a fundraising ball and multiple marathons. Ivan’s exploits even made him a YouTube sensation after he skied 10 kilometres down a mountain wearing only a mankini to raise money.
In January 2014, Ivan was joined by good friend and TV presenter Ben Shephard, for an epic challenge which involved training continuously until they had each burned 10,000 calories. Ivan is also a trustee of CHUF.
Mr Cameron said: “Ivan is an extraordinary fundraiser, capturing the imagination with challenges that many others would not even dare to attempt. He has a done a fantastic job raising money and awareness – and helping to lessen the suffering of sick children. I am delighted to recognise Ivan’s service by making him a Point of Light.”
Ivan was presented with the award by Tynemouth MP Alan Campbell at a special award ceremony at North Shields.
Mr Campbell said: “Ivan and Nadine have gone beyond raising money, important though that is, to raising the profile and importance of the children’s heart unit. He has given so much of his time and effort and it is fantastic that he is being given this recognition. I warmly congratulate Ivan on winning this award.”