COUNTY Durham’s High Sheriff has put his best foot forward to raise almost £40,000 for local community groups.

David Gray formally took the role in March at Durham Cathedral, just 24 hours before public buildings like the Cathedral were forced to close for lockdown.

Determined to help, Mr Gray soon set himself an ambitious fundraising challenge – to walk the length of the River Tees and River Wear from source to mouth.

As Mr Gray set off, walking 18 miles a day for ten days, sponsorship began to pour in, and he has now raised almost £40,000.

Mr Gray said: “One of my missions for my year of office was to try and raise some money for various local charities that not only cover the geography of the county, but also provide support and assistance to many of the live issues that have come into sharp focus during the Covid-19 pandemic to date and, I fear, will have a significant role to play going forward.”

East Durham Trust, Wear Valley Women’s Aid in Bishop Auckland, Upper Teesdale Agricultural Support Services (UTASS), Durham Boys and Girls Association and, Derwentside Detached Youth Project have each received £4,000 from the fundraiser through County Durham Community Foundation.

Foundation Chief Executive, Michelle Cooper said: “David has really taken the meaning of his role to heart and used it as an opportunity to carry out a selfless act that will bring immense support to groups who need all the help they can get right now. We are proud to manage this fund and have had such positive feedback from all the groups supported to date.”

Jackie Forbes from Derwentside Detached Youth Project said: “The money will actually help us to expand our work to support these young people. When things settle down, we then want to run some workshops and peer groups to get young people together, having fun and getting out and about.”

The Northern Echo:

Grace Crawford, from UTASS, said: “On behalf of us all here at UTASS, we would like to pass on our congratulations to David for such amazing achievements and also our huge thanks and appreciation for this offer of support. £4,000 is an amazing figure and we are really overwhelmed at David’s choice to include us as one of the first recipients of funding from this fund at County Durham Community Foundation.”