Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Blair Decides to Wind Up North Sport Foundation

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Blair Decides to Wind Up North Sport Foundation

Article excerpt

Byline: Sean Seddon Reporter sean.seddon@trinitymirror.com

AFTER a decade of helping children fulfil their dreams, Tony Blair's parting gift to the North East has been wound down.

The former Sedgefield MP set up the Tony Blair Sports Foundation when he stood down as Prime Minister in 2007 as his legacy in the region.

Focused on training coaches to work in schools and with teams across the North East, a decade of work saw the foundation increase access to sport for children in our communities.

His strong connection with the region, which began as a child growing up in Durham, was cemented through 24 years representing his Country Durham constituency in Parliament.

Backed by PS700,000 of personal funding, his foundation has put thousands of coaches in place across the North East.

But after recently setting up the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change and adopting a more prominent stance in frontline politics, the work of the sports foundation has been brought to an end.

Mr Blair told us: "When I stood down as MP for Sedgefield I wanted to repay the kindness, generosity and support given to me by the people in the constituency and the wider region.

"That is why I decided to set up and personally finance the sports foundation.

"From its early beginnings 10 years ago, even though we were ambitious for the organisation, I could not have predicted that it would turn out to be the amazing success that it has been.

"This is in no small way due to the leadership, passion and commitment of our tireless and incomparable staff, Jeanette Pickard and Arlene Ainsley, who took our ambitions and turned them into reality."

Mr Blair identified the training of 6,132 coaches, setting up the Tennis Cup Challenge and involving thousands of children in rowing across the region through the Concept2 programme as personal highlights in the life of the foundation. …

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