A LITTLE white hedgehog called Snowdrop has helped raise thousands of pounds for the North East Autism Society.

NEAS was chosen as one of four charities to benefit from the 30th and final Durham Shopping Extravaganza after organisers met author Peter Barron and illustrator Jonathan Raiseborough at last year’s event.

Peter and Jonathan were signing copies of their book, Snowdrop The Spikeshuffler, which was published with the support of NEAS. Peter and Jonathan have gone on to become NEAS ambassadors, and Snowdrop has been adopted as the charity’s new mascot.

The story inspired the Durham Shopping Extravaganza joint chairs, Kira Bayne and Nicky Swan, to find out more about the work of NEAS with a visit to New Warlands Farm.

A year on, NEAS has been presented with a cheque for £8,400 after the last Durham Shopping Extravaganza raised a record-breaking £35,000.

Over the past 30 years, more than £500,000 has now been donated to 100 charities and countless individuals.

This year’s final event, at Ramside Hall Hotel, again featured an array of stall-holders donating ten per cent of their profits from goods sold.

The other charities to benefit were Upper Teesdale Agricultural Support Services, Grace House, and PHAB.

Nicky Swan said: “It’s sad to be coming to an end after 30 years but we wanted to go out on a high and it’s a joy to have been able to raise so much money.”

Kira Bayne added:

We wouldn’t have known about the North East Autism Society had it not been for Snowdrop The Spikeshuffler and we are delighted to have been able to support such a wonderful charity.

The cheque for NEAS was received by Marketing Manager Lisa Taylor, who told guests at the presentation ceremony that the money would be used to launch new toddler groups and for additional family support.

“Thank you so much – this will make a huge difference,” said Lisa.

Peter Barron added: “I’m absolutely thrilled that Snowdrop The Spikeshuffler has played a part in generating these vital extra funds for NEAS and I know Jonathan will be immensely proud too.”