Wild rover Mike McGrother is off on his travels again – this time walking from home in Stockton to Saltburn on Friday December 16 ahead of his band’s Christmas gig at the Spa Hotel the following day.
He’s calling the walk “500 Smiles” as he aims to have plenty of fun and laughter along the way, as well as raising funds for a very special cause.
Earlier this year the Wildcats of Kilkenny fiddler and frontman walked from Carrickmacross, Ireland, to Middlesbrough Town Hall, tracing the footsteps of his ancestors.
During 2016 Mike has raised around £5,000 for the Finlay Cooper Fund, the charity Boro legend Colin Cooper and his wife Julie set up to help Teesside children in memory of their son.
Now he’s hoping to add more to the fund to thank them for their dramatic £36,000 pledge towards the costs of sending Middlesbrough five-year-old Finley Ingles to the USA for surgery on a rare brain tumour.
“I was planning to donate my fee and hoping to get sponsorship for Finley, but due to the amazing support of the Finlay Cooper Fund he doesn’t need any further funding,” explained talented Mike.
“I asked his mum, Kara, and she requested that any other fundraising efforts originally intended for her son now continue, but for the Finlay Cooper Fund.
“I’ll be celebrating the power and passion of children from Stockton to Saltburn and in honour of the Finlay Cooper Fund’s dragonfly emblem I’m going to dedicate the gig to the dragonflies of Teesside, all the children who live here and who are our future.”
Colin praised Mike for his continued dedication to the cause and wished him well with his latest venture.
“Mike’s become a firm friend of the Finlay Cooper Fund and continues to amaze us all with the lengths he’s willing to go to raise money for Teesside children who really need our help,” he said.
“It’s thanks to the efforts of Mike and the small army of well-wishers who continue to give their time and skills behind the scenes that we’ve been able to do so much good work in our Finlay’s name.
“But we know there are still many more children out there who need our support and Mike’s latest walk will enable us to continue doing as much as we possibly can.”
Mike is a former champion ambassador in the Evening Gazette’s Community Champion awards and was praised by former Primer Minister David Cameron for his community work. He is also a fierce advocate for Stockton and won a Catalyst Achievement Award for his work to make the town a better place.
Supporting former England international Colin and Julie with the Finlay Cooper Fund are lifelong Boro fans Nick Waites, Lee Bramley and Graham Fordy