• Two very proud parents with one of our 2013 Award winners

    Two very proud parents with one of our 2013 Award winners

  • Our 2011 Magician entertaining our Nominees

    Our 2011 Magician entertaining our Nominees

  • A Nominee arriving to the 2012 Awards in a pink limo-bus!

    A Nominee arriving to the 2012 Awards in a pink limo-bus!

About Bravehearts of the North East

Founded in 1989, Bravehearts of the North East was founded as a channel for parents, nurses, friends and family of brave children to be able to nominate them to be recognised and rewarded with a Bravehearts crystal and a gift of their choice.

Bravehearts receive a flood of application each year for children between the ages of 5 and 15 years to become a Braveheart. Our annual fundraising events and support from our sponsors and volunteers make it all possible.

Inspired by an amazing young girl, Bravehearts continues to put smiles on the faces of really courageous children throughout Northumberland, Durham, North Yorkshire, Tyne and Wear, Cleveland & Cumbria.

In 1989 a National Children of Courage Award was made to a young girl from the North East called Joanne Gillespie. Joanne, who was 11, had endured 2 major operations and fought back against a recurring brain tumour.

In order to help other children who would go through such experiences Joanne turned the diary of her recovery into a book. It was published in 1989 under the title "Brave Heart".

It immediately received public acclaim as an inspiration to other sick children and their families. It led not only to the Children of Courage Award, but also to Joanne being presented in the spring of 1989 with a North East personality Award.

When Joanne was being recognised as a child of courage, among those present at the award ceremony was Robin Alexander, a member of Hexham Round Table about to start his year as Community Service Committee Chairman.

Robin was so inspired by Joanne's story that he sought to make the cornerstone of his year an appeal to establish recognition and reward for other children with similar stories. 
The fundraising effort proved a great success, culminating in the autumn of 1989 with a gala charity dinner held at the Mayfair Ballroom (a venue where "The Gate" now stands) at which the cabaret for the evening was headlined by Dire Straits. Over £35,000 was raised.

As a consequence of the fundraising effort, it was possible to send 22 children to Disney World in Florida. Other children whose illness or handicap prevented them from travelling received computers, videos, or other equipment intended to enhance their lives.

All the children attended a presentation at the ITV (then Tyne Tees TV) and received the distinctive Brave Hearts award – the cherished Crystal Pyramid.

It soon became apparent that the undertaking had grown beyond anyone's wildest dreams, and it was decided that it was too big to remain simply as part of Hexham Round Table's community service effort. Consequently Brave Hearts was registered as a Charity in its own right. This is now known as "Brave Hearts of the North East", and the Round Table link remains through the Charity's Trustees, most of whom have been members of Hexham Round Table.