Tyne Tunnel 2k wheelchair race in jeopardy
ORGANISERS of an international wheelchair race are desperately trying to plug a £50,000 hole in their funding after losing two of its main sources of money.
Every year elite wheelchair athletes travel to Tyneside from across the globe to take part in the Tyne Tunnel 2k.
But the race is now in jeopardy after £40,000 worth of funding from the NewcastleGateshead Initiative dried up and a £10,000 partnership with UK ironmongers Geze was also scrapped.
Now they are frantically trying to fill the £50,000 void left in their purse.
Access consultant David Burdus, who organises the Tyne Tunnel 2k race, said: “This is the eighth year of the Tunnel 2k event and we had imagined the funding from NGI would roll through to 2010.
“But with the way this funding is handled now, it has meant we have lost the £40,000.
“It was felt it doesn’t fit the eligibility criteria for economic development and tourism. I feel a 460 million worldwide TV audience is a strong tick in the box but it is not enough. It is a major, major blow for us.”
Over the last four years, the NewcastleGateshead Initiative has had a central funding role in the Tyne Tunnel 2k.
It was hoped its involvement would stretch to next year, but following a restructure in regional finances the funding was axed. Last year the event cost £65,000 in total, but organisers claim the actual cost stretched to as much as £90,000 when taking into consideration help in kind.
Mr Burdus said: “We can still have the basic event but we can’t attract as many international athletes but it will still be impressive. It’s back to grassroots level without the funding.
“You can’t afford to lose momentum with events like this because you can struggle to get going again. I am looking for light so it’s not the end of the tunnel.
“We have fabulous support from TT2 and local firm Surgo but to continue to run the event we must secure a further £7,000 and £10,000 in sponsorship.”
The athletes confirmed for this year include Britain’s David Weir, who won two gold medals, a silver and a bronze at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic games. But because of the funding cuts the organisers have already lost the services of South African Ernst Van Dyke and three-times Olympic gold medallist Kurt Furnley.
NewcastleGateshead Initiative declined to comment today. Anyone interested in sponsoring the event should contact David Burdus on email@example.com.