MOTHERS and daughters of the North-East’s travelling community threw a huge party that raised thousands for cancer charities recently.

The kind-hearted efforts of Suellen Welch Lowther, Natalie Welch Knight and Renee Welch Barton add to a year of tireless fundraising from their community that has benefited good causes across the country, and further afield.

Throughout the year, generous Gypsies and Travellers from across the region have boosted funds for charities, helped the homeless and even went viral with an initiative that led to foodbanks being inundated with much-needed donations ahead of the festive season.

The fast-spreading #foodbankchallenge, which was kicked off by Bishop Auckland man Watson Harrop Jr in November, led to an influx of food and toiletries flooding into refuges, foodbanks and other organisations helping those who are struggling.

The 29-year-old was gobsmacked when people across the country took up his challenge after he filled up a trolley with food and donated it to his local foodbank, videoing himself nominating others to do the same in the process.

The video was shared thousands of times as his mission was taken up everywhere, from the furthest corners of the UK to America, Australia and Europe.

Volunteers at foodbanks, charities and other good causes across the North-East said they had seen nothing like the subsequent uplift in donations as they praised those involved for their generosity and kindness.

There has also been a concerted effort to gather donations for Portuguese Gypsy children, with shoeboxes recently being filled and sent overseas to help youngsters in need.

The recent ‘mothers and daughters’ party was held at Darlington’s Engineers Club and led to about £3,000 being raised for Macmillan Cancer Care.

It was organised by members of the Welch family after a similar party in 2017 raised £6,000 for Darlington’s Springfield care home, which looked after their late relative, Lizann Welch.

Ms Welch Lowther said: “This year’s party had a great atmosphere and was absolutely lovely.

“Everybody thoroughly enjoyed it and we had support from across the community, including from local businesses.

“People came from all over to join us and it was a good night out.

"I hope the funds we raised will mean a lot to Macmillan, who we want to help in any way that we can.

“As a community, wherever we can help people out, we will do whatever we are able to.”

Michelle Muir, senior fundraising manager for Macmillan Cancer Support, praised the mothers and daughters for their efforts in boosting the charity’s coffers.

She said that their donation would help to fund the services of a Macmillan nurse for about two weeks, adding: “It is amazing.

“I want to say thank you to the girls for organising this event.

"Macmillan relies solely on donations from the public to provide services locally.

“The money raised will go a long way to help people live life as fully as they can.”