We launch our 130th anniversary film, narrated by Tim Healy

TV star Tim Healy has been in the recording studio for Children North East to read a specially commissioned poem that forms the backdrop to a film launched today (Monday July 5) to celebrate our 130th anniversary.

The poem, titled, You’re Not Alone, has been penned by Geordie poet, Scott Tyrrell and the film has been made by South Shields-based Unified Films.

It is hoped the film will not only raise awareness but also much-needed funds for Children North East so that it can continue helping babies, children and young people in our region.

Chief Executive of Children North East, Leigh Elliott said:

“Covid has hit our beneficiaries hard at a time when child poverty rates in the North East are growing faster than anywhere else in the country outside inner city London. In parts of Middlesbrough, 46 per cent of children are living in poverty and in some areas of Newcastle it’s 45 per cent, these are also pre-Covid figures which is extremely worrying.

“At the same time, charities like ours are finding it harder to raise income because our usual mass participation fundraising events – such as our annual schools Sandcastle Challenge – can’t go ahead in the same way. So we hope our film, which demonstrates how we stand up for children, will remind people why we’re here and move them to support us.”

Tim, who is our valued Patron, travelled from his home in Cheshire to record the emotive poem at the Harbourmaster Production Studio in South Shields.

He said: “Both the poem and film are fantastic. Children North East has been supporting youngsters and their families since 1891 when a couple of chaps decided to take a bunch of kids out to the seaside for some fresh air and a bite to eat and, though it’s sad we’re still needed today, the main thing is we are still here for families.”

Scott with Tim at the recording studio

The charity was founded by shipowner’s manager, John Lunn and cashier to Newcastle Corporation, John Watson, both of whom were concerned about the health of poor children living in the Newcastle slums. Lunn wrote an open letter to the newspaper to Watson with a practical suggestion of how to help:

‘Are there any street lads in your Mission to whom a day at the seaside would be a treat? If so, we might organise a trip’

As a result of the letter, 120 Tyneside children enjoyed a boat trip on the river to Tynemouth. The idea caught the public’s imagination and soon weekly trips were being organised, paid for through public donations.

Today, our charity offers a wide range of support and in 2019/20 our staff created life changing differences for 3,921 babies, children and young people across the North East and further afield through 28 diverse projects from mental health counselling to supporting children who have suffered domestic abuse.

Geordie poet, Scott Tyrrell, said it had been an honour to have been asked to write the poem.

“The North East spirit is tremendous. We’re a mickey-taking lot but there’s something in our gut that compels us to lift up those who are struggling. I think that, most of all, is the message I’ve tried to get across in the poem.”

And Jon Burton, who runs Unified Films along with Ryan Gibson, added:

“It’s been such an enjoyable challenge to bring Scott’s incredible words to life, as well as to do justice to 130 years of Children North East, a charity that does such important work in support of babies, children, young people and their families in our region.”

“As well as the likes of Beamish offering up their amazing premises to the production, we’ve had such a dedicated and passionate cast and crew, all so aware of the importance of what we’re doing, and as such, giving it their absolute all. We’re very excited to share the film and tell the story of this wonderful charity!”

Support our 130th year appeal

Come behind the scenes of You're Not Alone