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Founder of the Great North Dog Walk has helped to raise millions of pounds for animal causes despite suffering a series of health problems. 

Tony’s first event in 1990 involved just 12 schoolchildren with 13 dogs. Since then, the annual charity walk has raised more than £8 million for various animal charities, with an estimated 35,000 dogs taking part in 2018, and 185 different breeds. 

The former teacher has carried on with his fundraising activities despite battling health problems including a heart attack, three heart operations, three skin cancer operations and diabetes. 

But he was forced to cancel the 2019 event on doctors’ orders after nearly dying from sepsis earlier this year. He says he will be back in time for the 30th anniversary walk in 2020. 

The Great North Dog Walk holds several Guinness World Records as the world’s largest charity dog walk. Walkers choose who they raise funds for each year from a list of beneficiaries, the majority of which are animal organisations. 

It is an inclusive event, with routes to suit pushchairs, wheelchairs, the elderly and older dogs. Tony, 62, from South Shields, said: “I love what I do, particularly on the day when I can see people coming together from the local community - all for the love of dogs.”