“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. The Foundation has recruited, trained and placed 6,132 coaches with sports clubs across the north east, working with representatives from 10 sports. It has organised competitions such as the Tennis Cup Challenge, and in one year, saw 439 schools and more than 3,400 children take part. Working with Concept2, the Foundation introduced the hugely successful Get Going, Get Rowing in secondary schools which has seen thousands of north east pupils taking part over the years.
“It has been an absolute privilege to see the enjoyment and energy of the young people inspired by our coaches. The community spirit has been truly amazing.
“As I am now focussing on the work of my new Institute and the Foundation has reached the end of its natural life, the time has come to close down its operations.
“I want to thank everyone who has worked with us over the last 10 years, especially Jeanette and Arlene, and also our trustees, sports and community ambassadors, partner organisations and all those volunteers who have given their time so freely and brought such enthusiasm to making sport more accessible for young people.
“So many thousands of them have experienced the health benefits, joy and camaraderie these activities have brought and I very much hope that all those who have supported our work over the last 10 years, will continue to build on our legacy to inspire the generations to come.”