INVERCLYDE’S clown prince of charity running Tommy Armstrong was the first person nominated for one of the Telegraph’s new Community Champion Awards.
The 76-year-old, who has raised more than £200,000 for local good causes over four decades, was put forward for Charity Champion of the Year.
He was suggested by a local person who wanted to remain anonymous, but said he had followed Tommy’s fundraising over the years.
Tommy has three grown-up children and spent most of his working life as a site clerk on construction sites, including the building of a new airport in the Falklands, and he has also been a Private in the Army.
The grandad is known throughout Britain for taking part in races dressed as a clown, including the London Marathon and the Great North Run, where a few years ago he met Denise Lewis, who won the gold medal in the heptathlon at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
He said: “I told her about the runs I do for charity, and she said she remembered me from a previous Great North Run.”
Denise gave him an autograph which said: ‘Keep up the great charity work, Tommy. You’re a star!’
Tommy started his fundraising at the 1984 Inverclyde Marathon, and launched the Inverclyde Santa Dash in 2006, encouraging many people to dress up in Santa outfits and be sponsored to run a 5k through the streets of Greenock.
Thousands of pounds have been raised through the event, and he is already planning the next one for December.
Tommy has featured in a photographic exhibition including some of the country’s best runners, as well as ordinary competitors, held to mark the 25th anniversary of the Great Scottish Run.
He was chosen because he has run many of the races in fancy dress, and even won the event’s best-dressed runner competition.
None of the fame goes to his head, however, as anyone who meets him on his charity stance on West Blackhall Street will testify.
He is a regular feature near the Cancer Research shop – just one of the many charities he supports – playing 60s records, collecting money and giving away cuddly toys and sweets to children.
Five years ago, the tables were turned on him when he was presented with cash. He won £12,000 on the Postcode Lottery – and promptly gave away £1,300 to seven local organisations.
Tommy said: “I raise money for charity every time I do a run. So when I won a wee bit of money, I decided to give some to charities.”
Tommy didn’t do many runs in 2016 because he wasn’t feeling very well, but he already has several lined up this year and is determined to help many more charities by keeping on running.
A summary of our award categories
SPORTING CHAMPION OF THE YEAR
For a local individual who is making an impact in local sport, either on the pitch or off it. Who is the beating heart of local sport?
This category celebrates a person or a business who have demonstrated a special entrepreneurial flair, and has turned this passion to help grow their local community.
LITTLE CHAMPION OF THE YEAR
To recognise an outstanding young person up to the age of 18 whose achievements, courage or bravery makes your heart burst with pride.
YOUNG ENTERPRISE CHAMPION – Sponsored by Arnold Clark
Recognises young people who have succeeded in starting a business as an individual or as a group creating benefits for themselves and for their communities. This award celebrates the work accomplished by a young person demonstrating good business skills.
TEACHER OF THE YEAR – Sponsored by Greenock Telegraph
Everyone remembers their favourite teacher. This award recognises teachers who are bringing learning to life by engaging and inspiring all children and young people to fulfil their potential.
YOUTH COMMUNITY CHAMPION
We are looking for a young person up to the age of 18 who volunteers and makes a significant contribution to their local community. We know kids sometimes get a bad reputation. Tell us now about the kids whose hearts are in the right place.
HEART OF GOLD – Sponsored by Riverside Inverclyde
This award goes to someone who has made a contribution of outstanding significance to their local area. We will be recognising an adult whose actions, achievements, courage or bravery have touched the lives of others and made a difference. Someone special who truly has a heart of gold.
CHARITY CHAMPION OF THE YEAR
When it comes to charity, Inverclyde is as big-hearted as you can get.
This award is for an individual or group, who have dedicated their lives to supporting an amazing cause. A chance to recognise the incredible work they undertake tirelessly.
COMMUNITY CHAMPION OF THE YEAR – Sponsored by Amazon
Rewarding a local individual 18 years and upwards who goes out of their way to help those around them.
Someone whose actions are a force for good in the community who we all benefit from, making our community a better place.
This award will go to a local singer, band or group who put their heart and soul into every performance, whose talent makes us all extremely proud.
Our finalists will have the opportunity to perform live at the awards gala.
To place a nomination click here: https://newsquestscotlandevents.com/events/greenockcommchamp/