THOUSANDS of North-East schoolchildren are enjoying the great outdoors thanks to a pioneering charity being supported by a North-East building society.

Darlington Building Society donated £6,390 to the Home Walk Project, launched as a pilot initiative by The Walk & Talk Trust to inspire families to engage with nature.

The donation was part of the Society’s annual pledge to donate five per cent of its profits to local good causes.

The Home Walk Project, which is free of charge, is aimed at Year 3, 4 and 5 pupils in County Durham. So far, 68 schools – around a third of the primary schools in the county – have signed up.

Each of the 6,000 children taking part has been given resources – including sticker books – to encourage them and a parent, guardian or responsible adult to explore the North-East countryside.

Last year, The Walk & Talk Trust launched an initiative called The Big Smile, comprising a series of fundraising walks adding up to 50 kilometres, with the proceeds being used to buy walking boots for hundreds of North-East children and isolated adults.

Geoff Simpson, chief executive of The Walk & Talk Trust, said: “The Big Smile was a great success and now the Home Walk Project is another way for us to promote walking and talking as a free and easy way to improve both physical health and emotional well-being.

“It’s about bringing families closer together, while encouraging them to discover the treasures on their doorstep. Darlington Building Society’s generous donation was used to produce the two booklets that are at the heart of the project, and we can’t thank them enough for making it happen.”

Andrew Craddock, chief executive of Darlington Building Society, said: “A lot of our own staff suffered with their mental health during lockdown, and we have used the benefits of walking and talking so address that extremely important issue.

“When the request came in from The Walk & Talk Trust for support towards the Home Walk project, it really resonated with the us. Our staff felt it was close to their hearts and it’s fantastic to hear that so many children are taking part.”

  • Any state school in County Durham wishing to register for the project can find more information at