Recognition for Gareth and Jen's selfless acts

Caring community champions who live near Morpeth have been thanked for their efforts to help others in what has been a difficult year for many people.

By Ian Smith and Andrew Coulson
Monday, 27th December 2021, 10:51 am
Gareth Tate with Gemma McAlpine and volunteers from the Widdrington food bank.
Gareth Tate with Gemma McAlpine and volunteers from the Widdrington food bank.

An animal loving woman who lost her mum and a good friend to cancer has raised thousands for charity.

And a man who set up a food bank in Widdrington to provide food parcels during the first Covid-19 lockdown, which has been running ever since, has received a community star accolade from a housing association.

Jen Phizacklea, 43, raised over £100 at an event at Gallery 45 in Felton when they offered people the chance to enjoy time and get their picture taken with miniature horse Harvey.

Jen Phizacklea with miniature horse, Harvey, and her dogs in Felton.

This followed the success of the Debs Boyle Memorial Charity Dressage event at the Todburn Equestrian Centre, near Longhorsley which raised over £2,600.

Jen, from Tritlington, said: “Macmillan, St Oswald’s Hospice and Wansbeck General Hospital have been instrumental in supporting both my mum and Debs at a time of their greatest need.”

Debs, who was from Longhorsley, passed away as a result of secondary lung cancer, while Jen’s mum had Myeloma blood cancer.

“It was very hard to lose my mum, a retired nurse, in 2019 after she’d been first diagnosed in 2015,” said Jen.

“Macmillan did such an amazing job supporting her and my dad especially in her last three weeks when they came into the family home allowing dad to focus more on emotional support for her rather than the physical practicalities.”

Jen first met Debs, who was in her early 60s, when she was caring for her ailing mum.

She added: “Despite the fact the weather was terrible on the day, the Todburn event was a huge success – which is testament to how popular Debs was. She had the most wonderful sense of humour and a wide circle of loyal friends.”

Sarah Goldie, fundraising manager for Macmillan said: “I want to send heart-felt condolences to Jen and all those who knew her mum and her friend Debs.

“We can’t thank her enough for her fundraising efforts and her decision to choose Macmillan as one of the supported charities.”

Gareth Tate was nominated for recognition from the ‘12 deeds of Christmas’ campaign, an annual initiative by Karbon Homes that aims to recognise individuals or organisations within their communities who have gone the extra mile to help others.

As well as the food bank, as a first responder Gareth has also been running a mini medics club, delivering pharmacy medication throughout the pandemic, doing drop-ins for the elderly and helping with medical emergencies until emergency services arrive.

He was nominated by Gemma McAlpine, who said: “Gareth goes above and beyond to help anyone in whatever way he can. He’s a huge credit to our community and he truly deserves it.”

Karbon’s 12 deeds of Christmas celebrate community stars with a thank-you and a £100 shopping voucher to treat themselves.