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20 Years of the Sunshine Run 5K: Then and Now

Hi Sunshine News readers,

With less than three weeks to go until our annual Sunshine Run 5K (eek!), and since this year is extra special as it’s the 20th anniversary of the fun run, we thought it would be a great opportunity to take a look back at this spectacular event throughout the ages. We’re so excited for this celebration and we already have lots of runners signed up.

Online registration closes next week so if you’d like to join us for The Sunshine Run’s 20th birthday party, now is the time to sign up! Please visit to secure your place.

The Sunshine Run was first held in 2002. The Sunshine Fund have worked closely with Gateshead Harriers’ Tony Gardner since it began.

Speaking to Tony about how the run came to be, he explained how he ‘spoke to Chris Betts whose idea it was to link up with the Sunshine Fund to create a fundraising race’. Tony went on to say, “Chris presented the plan to Gateshead Harriers Committee (I was chairman at the time), and we approved the plan.

"It was agreed that we would do all the necessary things to get a licence, get the course measured by an approved UK Athletics course measurer and approach the Safety Advisory groups of Newcastle and Gateshead. The Sunshine Fund would be part of the meetings and would do the publicity.

"It is fair to say that this successful pattern was repeated each year until Covid lockdowns made it impossible. We returned last year to a slightly different course rather than pay for the use of Baltic Square and lose hundreds of pounds.

"I estimate that approximately a quarter of a million pounds has been raised thanks to the Sunshine Fund, Gateshead Harriers, the volunteers and of course the athletes”.

Martin Solomon, our ex Chair of Trustees, has taken part in the Sunshine Run multiple times and even sponsored the event in the past through law firm, Hay & Kilner. Hay & Kilner continue to support the event by registering a team each year and we look forward to welcoming them back to the quayside for the 20th anniversary!

Martin said, “20 years to proudly celebrate! It has always been a thoroughly enjoyable fun run – on a superb North East location to raise funds for a great charity to help North East children with disabilities – I enjoyed running it every year and always felt that all those participating did, too!”.

We also spoke to long-term supporter of our charity, Michelle Embleton from Sage. Michelle is a club runner for Ashington Hirst Running Club. As well as completing this year’s London Marathon on behalf of The Sunshine Fund, she has also participated in many Sunshine Runs both as a runner and as a volunteer.

“The Sunshine Run is one of the best events I attend. Whether you want to race it or enjoy a run, the route welcomes everyone and best of all it’s flat and takes in the sights of our bridges, so if you’re looking for a PB this is one to go for.

"But the main reason I run it is to support a wonderful local charity that helps North East families. I’ve seen first-hand what a difference the specialist equipment at support The Chronicle Sunshine Fund provides, and it is truly amazing.”

GOING BANANAS: The 2015 Sunshine Run was part of the charity’s ‘Go Bananas’ campaign

The Sunshine Run has had lots of different entertainment over the last 20 years, and this year is no different as we have lots planned for its 20th birthday! Paralympian and charity patron, Stephen Miller MBE, will be returning yet again to start the race, we’ll have music from the North Tyneside Steel Band and Sing United Choir, and runners will have lots of options for refreshments from the Urban Garden and Pitcher & Piano.

There will be photo opportunities from our friends at The Bigger Picture, with 99th Garrison returning in their Star Wars costumes, as well as all runners being given a photo finish in front of the Tyne Bridge. Many of our photos throughout the years have been taken by The Bigger Picture and we’re thrilled that they’ll be joining us again this year!

For the third year running, the 2023 Sunshine Run will be sponsored by our friends at Stagecoach, who go out of their way to support our charity all year round. Stagecoach North East Managing Director, Steve Walker, said: “We are so pleased to be supporting the Sunshine Run for a third time, this year, and to be able to play our part in helping The Sunshine Fund to continue their tradition of making a huge difference to the lives of local children with disabilities”.

Before I sign off, we’d also like to once again thank the incredible team at Recite Me who walked 1 million steps for The Sunshine Fund last week. The team walked 8 miles through Newcastle to raise money for us and exceeded their target which is amazing news, and will be a massive help towards funding specialist equipment to disabled children across the North East.

WALK A MILLION: The incredible team at Recite Me who walked 1 million steps for The Sunshine Fund last week

Thank you for reading – we hope to see many of you down by the Quayside on Wednesday 14th June!





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