Since 2017, we have funded a very special support role for children receiving cancer treatment at the Great North Children’s Hospital.

Pete Graves and George Caulkin, overseen by Gareth Williams, are quizzed by young patients

Project Co-ordinator, Gareth Williams, works closely with young patients to engage, inspire and motivate them to take part in tailored sporting and education activities and programmes. He also works with the siblings and families of patients.

Gareth’s role is delivered in partnership with Newcastle United Foundation and football often provides a strong focus for his work.

Recently, patients with an interest in journalism were able to practice their interview skills by questioning a well-known broadcaster and an experienced football writer about their experiences in sports reporting.

Pete Graves is a well-known face at Sky Sports, where he has been presenting for over a decade, and George Caulkin is a highly-respected football journalist, who was at The Times for more than 20 years and now writes for The Athletic. George is also one our Foundation Patrons.

The pair were quizzed during an online interview by Grace Olley, aged 14 from County Durham and Kai Surtees, aged 16 from Saltburn-by-the-Sea.

Grace’s Mam, Catherine Olley, says: “Pete and George’s advice was really helpful and very informative, and delivered in a fun and upbeat manner. As a parent listening in on the call, it was just like listening to a group of friends talking about a subject they all really enjoyed.

“It allowed two young people dealing with cancer to focus on their future aspirations and not the illness.”

Kai says: “Pete and George’s stories were really interesting and they gave me a good idea of what to expect if I got into sports journalism.

“Journalism is definitely a career worth exploring because of the opportunities it provides like travelling around the country or even the world.”

Pete and George described their career paths and answered excellent questions from Grace and Kai about their experiences working in football.

Pete says: “It was really nice to meet the guys and share stories of my life as a presenter on Sky Sports. George and I were really impressed with some of their questions too! Some future sports journalists without doubt.”

As well as exploring possible future careers, the interview gave the young patients the opportunity to develop important communication skills and helped grow their confidence.

George says: “I thought the questions asked were excellent and it was a pleasure to help. Having seen Gareth work at close hand, I know what a fantastic job he does and it was lovely to be part of such a special project, even in a tiny way.”

Gareth’s work with young cancer patients has been so successful that the Great North Children’s Hospital Fund is now funding an equivalent role at the hospital supporting children with chronic health conditions.