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AN epic trek has helped raise the profile of foster care across the Tees Valley.

The gruelling Coast to Coast challenge – 192 miles (412,000 steps) from St Bees in Cumbria to Robin Hood’s Bay – aimed to raise awareness of the need for new foster carers across the five boroughs that make up the Tees Valley.

The joint initiative was led by Brian Foulger of Middlesbrough Council’s Family Placement Team, and saw a core group of four walkers covering some of UK’s most scenic terrain in the Lake District, Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors.

During their 11-day odyssey, the walkers took part in a sponsored leg from Clay Bank to the Lion Inn at Blakey Ridge, raising around £3,000 for Team Middlesbrough.

Along the way they were joined by foster carers and children, Middlesbrough Council Chief Executive Tony Parkinson, Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger and Director of Middlesbrough’s Children’s Services Alison Brown.

Tony Parkinson said: “Our foster carers do an amazing job that makes a huge difference to the lives of countless children.

“It was a pleasure to join to the walkers along part of the route, and I hope it will help to encourage new people to come forward and give their time and dedication to help care for some of our most vulnerable children.”

Brian Foulger said: “In many ways the Coast to Coast Walk symbolised the journey a child takes when they enter foster care.

“There are always challenges and difficulties along the way, but you’re never on your own and there are always people there to offer help and support.

“We wanted to spread the word about the difference fostering can make for all involved, and I we will have encouraged more people to come forward and find out more.

“The walk was a fantastic experience, and I’m grateful to all those who took part, and to everyone who has supported us along the way.”

Throughout the walk the team wore specially made white shirts bearing the logos of their sponsors Everyone Active, Tesco (Coulby Newham) and Askham Bryan College, Persimmon Homes and the GMB.

PARENTS and youngsters will be toddling in a good cause this week at a popular Middlesbrough playgroup.

A FUND-raising charity gig is being held at the weekend in aid of the victims of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

TWO volunteers at Butterwick Hospice have raised £24,000 for the charity by selling donated goods through online auction site eBay.

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