More than 2,000 primary school children from all over the North East are to compete in a charity fun day on a South Shields beach. But it's not simply playing rounders or throwing frisbees - it's an educational project involving the environment around them.

Fifty-one schools have taken up the annual Sandcastle Challenge issued by Children North East. The kids have been working on an Olympic Games theme for several weeks. Plans will become gritty reality on Sandhaven Beach on Friday 29 June.

The children have been researching their chosen subjects – who built them, what they represent and how they function. Help has been provided by building, engineering, design, architecture and construction companies such as Robertson Construction & GB Building Solutions. 167 members of staff from banks, department stores, call centres and law firms have all been granted time off over the past few weeks to visit schools and advise on the projects.

In the Sandcastle Challenge, teams of 15 schoolchildren – some of whom have never been on a beach before – are allotted a plot and given an hour to turn theory into reality. They can only use the traditional tools of buckets, spades and eager hands.

Five winning schools will each receive cheques for £200. Entries will be judged by a team of 21 judges, plus representatives from the People's Postcode Lottery – including its North East ambassador, Judie McCourt. Judie is eager to thank the region's players who support Children North East.

This is a fabulous event,” said Judie McCourt. “The children have got some brilliant ideas and I can’t wait to see them on the beach.

It’s really exciting to be involved and to see directly where the money raised by players of People's Postcode Lottery goes – straight to benefit the region's youngsters.

Carol Taylor, senior fundraiser for Children North East, said: “The Sandcastle Challenge also creates hidden opportunities – meeting an external visitor is great for extending school relationships and helps raise awareness of what we do at Children North East.

And, the valuable income from the People's Postcode Lottery means so much in enabling us to extend the services we offer.

Previous Sandcastle Challenge designs have ranged from the Angel of the North to the Eiffel Tower, Mount Rushmore and the Taj Mahal.

The Children North East summer charity season continues with a Sandcastle Ball at the Newcastle Marriott Gosforth Park Hotel on Friday July 6. Full details are available at

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