Whilst our annual Sandcastle Challenge on Sandhaven Beach, South Shields, can't go ahead this year due to social distancing, we're delighted to be staging an exciting virtual event instead!

This year, rather than being restricted to schools, the Challenge is open to ALL of the region’s children. And you don’t have to have a beach close by or a garden sandpit to take part either! It needn't even require sand!

Catriona Taylor, our Head of Fundraising and Communications, explains: “Our Sandcastle Challenge is such a popular event, we thought it would be a lovely idea to involve children in some sort of summer project on the day it was due to have been held, which is Friday 3 July.

“So we’re asking children – whether they’re at home or back at school – to come up with something seaside-themed using exercise, nature or craft and to send a photograph or video of what they’ve created to us.

“They can also share their achievements on social media using #SandcastlesAtHome. We’d love it if people would like to fundraise for Children North East as part of the Challenge, but they really don’t have to, it can be just for fun.

Our main aim is to see as many children as possible joining in and having a good time.

Last year’s Sandcastle Challenge saw around 1,750 primary and middle school children descend on Sandhaven Beach to show off their construction skills, supported by 126 staff from a total of 47 of the region’s businesses.


The winners came from Bridgewater School in Scotswood, Newcastle; Roseberry Primary in Chester-le-Street; Ludworth Primary in Durham; St Peter’s RC Primary in Gateshead and Beacon Hill Primary in Cramlington.

  • One of last year's designs

The annual Sandcastle Challenge recalls our charity’s earliest roots. Children North East began life as the Poor Children’s Holiday Association, set up in 1891 to take disadvantaged youngsters from Newcastle’s smog-bound streets on boat trips down the Tyne for a breath of fresh air and fun at the Coast.

Leigh Elliot, Children North East’s interim Chief Executive, said:

"Our annual Sandcastle Challenge is the highlight of our calendar each year and this is the first time in a quarter of a century we’ve had to cancel it, which is really sad as hundreds of school children look forward to the event, as do their teachers and the many businesses, including our main sponsor, Vistry Partnerships North East (formerly Galliford Try), who so loyally support us.

We hope that on July 3, schools and families around the region will enjoy taking part in our remote Sandcastle Challenge, at home or in the classroom. Next year we’ll be celebrating our charity’s 130th anniversary when we hope to be back on the beach for our best Sandcastle Challenge yet!