The people who made the North East a better place in 2022

Just a few of the people who have helped make a difference in the North East in 2022.

While 2022 has been a difficult year for many, there have been plenty of people working hard to try and make the North East a better place.

The North East is known for its kindness and generosity and ITV Tyne Tees has had the chance to shine a light on just a few of the people who have been trying to make life easier for others.

Here are just a few of the special people from the region who have featured in our news coverage this year.

Ed Blackbird

When war broke out in Ukraine in March, hundreds of people across the UK began collecting donations to help people affected by the conflict, with many making the trip across Europe to deliver aid.

Among them was Gateshead businessman Ed Blackbird, who hired a motorhome and trailer to take hundreds of items donated by the community.

Ed Blackbird visited Ukraine back in the spring and again just before Christmas. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Mr Blackbird returned to Ukraine this month to deliver Christmas presents and other essential supplies.

He told ITV Tyne Tees: "I think going into Kyiv is going to be incredibly emotional but Christmas is a special time for everybody. We’re just trying to take a little bit of Geordie love down there."

Mags Lunn

The supermarket worker from Darlington was described as an "incredible human" by grateful mum Bex Wickens.

Her son Hudson, who has autism, used to find shopping overwhelming. But after Mags -who works at Asda in Darlington - went out of her way to look after him, it is a different story.

Hudson is now mad about Asda, and has his own branded green shirt and a mini-supermarket at home.

Bex said: "She’s just always totally amazing with him. She’s witnessed the meltdowns that shopping used to cause and made him feel at ease in an environment he’d usually find overwhelming.

"Just by being herself she’s made my life easier. She loves him just as much as he loves her."

Hudson and Mags have become firm friends after she took the youngster, who has autism, under her wing. Credit: Asda

Friends of Jack and Wayne Mitchell

When father and son Jack and Wayne Mitchell took their own lives within days of each other in 2020, it deeply affected their Gateshead community.

This year, friends and family of the pair, who are from High Spen, have been trying to raise awareness about mental health while raising £40,000.

Five of Jack's best friends set up the group with the aim of completing 30 challenges by what would have been his 30th birthday in October.

In total, almost £40,000 was raised for a new Hope Fund, organised by Tyneside Northumberland Mind, educating children about mental health.

Jack and Wayne Mitchell have inspired their community to raise thousands of pounds in their memory. Credit: Toria Mitchell

The 'Savvy Grannies' from Gateshead

The cost of living crisis has made life tough for thousands of families across the North East this year, with energy bills soaring and other costs on the rise.

In the autumn we met a group of grandmothers from Gateshead - who named themselves the Savvy Grannies - to channel the 'Make Do and Mend' ethos of previous generations.

Guided by the motto 'what Granny would have taught you?', they compiled an ever-growing list of ways to stay warm and well-fed amid soaring prices which has been read by thousands of our viewers since.

Ryan Reynolds

He may not been from the North East, but Hollywood star Ryan Reynolds has been making a difference to children's lives in the region.

In July, the Deadpool actor left a Newcastle family gobsmacked when he got in touch to cheer up superhero-loving 13-year-old Seb Hollingsworth.

The youngster had his first heart surgery when he was 16-weeks-old and underwent more surgery earlier this year.

Reynolds sent him a video message praising Seb's bravery.

Ryan Reynolds sent a video message to Leland and urged people to sign up as stem cell donors. Credit: JJ O'Donnell/ITV Tyne Tees

In October, the actor made another Tyneside youngster very happy when he sent a video message to six-year-old Leland, from Gateshead.

The football-loving youngster was in desperate need of a stem cell transplant and after the message went viral on social media, hundreds of extra people signed up as donors.

Leland has now found a match and is due to undergo treatment next year.

Lucas Hughes

Twelve-year-old Lucas from York has lost two brothers and his dad to brain tumours.

He wanted to raise money in their memory and decided to take on the challenge of climbing the UK's highest mountain.

He succeeded and has now raised £15,000 for OSCAR’s Paediatric Brain Tumour Charity, set up by his mum Marie after the death of nine-year-old Oscar in 2014.

Lucas and Maries Hughes have raised thousands for their family's brain tumour charity Oscar's Paediatric Brain Tumour Charity. Credit: Family

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