AN outgoing chief executive has pledge to run her first – and last – 10km race in aid of the charity she is about to step down from.

Debbie Barker is taking part in the SG Petch’s Darlington 10k on Sunday.

The chief executive of Rape and Sexual Abuse Counselling Centre (RSACC), who lives in Darlington, is leaving the charity after 18 years as a volunteer and member of staff. She is raising money for the charity, which supports survivors of sexual violence in County Durham and Darlington.

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She said: "It’s been a tough time for charities like ours, especially with limited ability to fundraise. However, we have received some fantastic support during the pandemic.

"We know that as a cause we are often much further down the list of charities for people to support. But every penny and pound we receive goes to providing counselling and other services to people whose lives, and often those of their families, have been affected by the trauma they suffer as a consequence of sexual violence."

Ms Barker, originally from Barnard Castle, started volunteering for RSACC in 2003, then became employed as a counsellor in the Sexual Assault Referral Unit (SARC) in 2006 and also worked as RSACC’s finance manager from 2009, along with her counselling commitments.

She became a full time funding manager for RSACC in 2012 and was appointed chief executive in 2014.

Isabel Owens, currently RSACC deputy chief executive, will replace her.

Ms Barker added: "After 18 years at RSACC, I’m really looking for a fresh challenge.

"But before I go, I want to make a final contribution by running the Darlington 10k. And I’m hoping that the many organisations and people I have worked with along those 18 years will help by sponsoring me!”

She will be running in a newly created vest, made by Shildon's Ugly Duck Clothing Company.

To sponsor her, visit

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