Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen has paid tribute to two Redcar-based community groups after more than £25,000 was raised from the sale of coins celebrating the region’s iron and steelmaking heritage.
Teesworks coins were created to honour the legacy of the Redcar steelworks, which has touched individuals and communities across the region, as well as look to the future of the Teesworks site. Thousands were cast from some of the last iron from the site by the William Lane Foundry in Middlesbrough and they sold out in just four months.
Thanks to the generous donations of people who wanted to take a piece of the steelworks home with them, a total of £26,145.50 was raised for good causes. Donors chose to award men’s mental health group Walk N Talk £13,456 and £12,687 for the town’s voluntary community group Ladies of Steel.
Now they are putting the money to good use, with it already helping Ladies of Steel purchase a number of tents for their youth club and expand their summer events, including a fun day for parents and under-tens on Tuesday, 3 August. Walk N Talk plans to invest in a new website and flyers to raise awareness and also begin to fund mental health counselling services.
Mayor Houchen said: “I’m delighted that the coins have proved so popular – and I’m overwhelmed by the generosity of people buying them. It just goes to show how many people the site has touched in the past, and thanks to all of those kind donations, it can go on to help more.
“It was a pleasure to present these cheques to Walk N Talk and Ladies of Steel and learn more about their fantastic work to support people in Redcar. They are two very worthy causes and I’m glad we’ve been able to help them.
“With the coins, we wanted to make sure people had the opportunity to keep a part of the steelworks forever, as a reminder of what went before, as we drive forward Teesworks’ transformation faster than ever to take full advantage of the projects coming on-site and its status as the UK’s largest Freeport.
“Just a few days ago, I hosted the global CEO of bp on a tour of Teesworks so he could see how the Net Zero Teesside Power project was developing – one of a number of exciting investments in the site which also includes GE Renewable Energy’s mammoth offshore wind turbine blade manufacturing facility.
“These huge projects will ensure thousands of good-quality, well-paid jobs for people across Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool for generations to come and show how we’re leading the UK in innovation and clean energy.”
Debbie and Chris Powlay from Ladies of Steel said: “This tremendous donation will go a long way in helping our big plans for the summer. We’ve got four eight-man tents to use for our youth club and have lots of plans for the summer with all of our community, from children to pensioners.
“We’d like to thank everyone involved for their kindness and donations, they’ve helped us to bring forward a lot of great projects. This funding really makes a huge difference to a lot of people, especially those who would otherwise be very lonely or isolated, so thank you too on their behalf.”
Walk N Talk founder Gareth Howell said: “I’d like to say a massive thank you to the Mayor and his team for choosing our community group as beneficiaries of this marvellous campaign – and to everyone who supported us by buying a coin.
“We’re overwhelmed by the amount of money that’s been raised and we’re currently getting a “Happy to talk” bench made, which we hope will be placed on Redcar seafront next to its own litter pick bin. We’ve got a few more ideas floating around as to how we’ll use the money, like to hire vehicles to support our future fundraising challenges and maybe get some of the lads trained up in techniques to support mental health and wellbeing.”
Jacob Young MP and Kate Willard OBE, co-chairs of the Teesworks Heritage Taskforce, said: “It’s wonderful that the historic assets on the site have been able to give back to the people of Redcar while producing a keepsake that will go on to be treasured for a long time.
“The coins are just one way Teesworks’ heritage is being highlighted and its redevelopment documented for the future.
“Working alongside Historic England, we have followed the highest standards in documenting the history of the site to create a lasting legacy of our industrial past.
“This has resulted in a huge project collecting video and photo of the site and its assets to chronicle this momentous transformation so it can be remembered and shared for generations to come.”