SUNSHINE, sand and a sea of smiling faces was the order of the day earlier this month, when more than 1,500 school children headed to South Shields beach for the Children North East annual Sandcastle Challenge.

And Great Whittington resident Carol Taylor had a huge task on her hands.

As the charity’s senior fund-raiser, Carol was responsible for organising the mass dig that allowed pupils to bring their classroom creations to life.

Each year sees a different theme explored, and this year’s sandcastle challenge, the 13th that Carol has reigned over and the 24th in the charity’s history, was called Star Struck – Explore the Cosmos.

Carol, who has lived in Great Whittington for 12 years, said: “The children research the theme with the help of a business partner for the event.

“We pair our 112 teams up with a range of different ‘experts’ from a variety of backgrounds, from architects and builders to bankers and lawyers.

“The children then carefully research their chosen design with the help of their business partner for the event before the big build on Sandhaven Beach at South Shields.”

Prizes of £200 each, donated by construction company Galliford Try, the Sandcastle Challenge sponsor, were awarded to five different winning teams.

The overall business winner will be announced at Children North East’s Sandcastle Ball on Friday, September 28.

“It’s fantastic to see the enthusiasm and the imagination of the children,” Carol added.

“I couldn’t do what I do without a really committed group of people that includes my trusty ‘sandcastle team’ who come every year to help.”