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Armagh £1 Million Fundraiser

2229. Willie Nugent

Willie Nugent, from Armagh, has raised over £1m for charity over the past 50 years by completing over 600 eccentric challenges.

Originally inspired by his school teacher reading the ‘Guinness Book of World Records’ to his class, Willie went on to start fundraising in 1973, when staff at the hospital he was working at were invited to submit fundraising ideas. Willie came up with the idea of cycling 100 miles from Donegal to Armagh and, since then, he has completed a wide range of unique challenges. These have included breaking a Guinness World Record for standing motionless for 13 hours, and visiting 21 dog shelters around the world to raise money for animal welfare charities, through his ‘Shaking Paws Around the World’ challenge. 

Each Christmas, Willie publishes a children’s book for charity featuring his dog, Maisie, with proceeds from his latest book going towards ‘Friends of the Cancer Centre Belfast City Hospital’, ‘Guide Dogs for the Blind’ and ‘Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children’.

In a personal letter to Willie, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: 

“It is truly impressive how over that time you have raised over £1 million for charity by completing more than 600 different challenges and even breaking a world record.

“Since embarking on your first charity challenge in 1979, cycling from Donegal to Armagh, you have inspired thousands of people across Northern Ireland to get behind you and support a range of causes, from animal shelters to helping children in hospital.”

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Chris Heaton-Harris, said: 

“Willie has raised an amazing amount for charity over the past half century, and continues to undertake creative fundraising initiatives on behalf of worthy causes.

“I congratulate him on this Points of Light award and thank him for his long-running support for charities, which has made a real difference to those in need – on top of setting a Guinness World Record!”

Willie said:

“It’s a great honour to receive the Points of Light Award. Thank you for this recognition. It will motivate me to continue with my fundraising for charity.

“I’d like to point out I’ve always had great support during my 50 years of fundraising and I can honestly say, I have never walked alone. Over the years I’ve always had great support from family and friends and not forgetting my faithful dogs who over the years have taken me for walks every day keeping me fit and healthy. With me in the photo is my present-day dog Maisie.”

The daily Points of Light award recognises outstanding individual volunteers - people who are making a change in their community.

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