Tributes flood in after passing of Businesswomen Awards finalist

Tributes have been paid to Julie Donaldson, a former finalist in the Tees Businesswomen Awards, who tragically lost her life to Covid-19 just weeks after her wedding day.

Julie, a presenter on Redcar-based radio station Zetland FM, died in hospital on Saturday October 31, having been put on a ventilator a couple of weeks after being admitted to hospital.

She was a finalist in the Inspiring Others category in the first Tees Businesswomen Awards in 2018.

Julie, 50, also won a Gold Award as Female Presenter of the Year in the 2018 Community Radio Awards and was shortlisted for the Best Local Radio Show in the Radio Academy ARIAS the same year.

Zetland FM station manager Jeremy Gartland called Julie “an exceptional radio presenter, a hugely valued colleague and a friend to us all.”

He said: “Julie was an inspiration to everyone she met. She had that very natural ability to communicate with people over the airwaves like she was talking to you personally.

“And she was passionate about supporting the local community in Redcar and Cleveland, working tirelessly to promote local groups, charities and organisations.”

Mr Gartland, who was a witness at Julie’s wedding to husband John in August, added: “Julie was much loved by our listeners and across the Redcar and Cleveland community.”

Tees Business and former Gazette writer Dave Robson, who presented a three-hour tribute programme to Julie, said it was an honour to commemorate one of community radio’s brightest stars.

“Julie was caring, compassionate, larger than life and, quite simply, one of the best radio presenters around.

“She was also incredibly kind and helpful to me, a radio novice – but she never treated me that way and was always full of support and encouragement.

“Because she did the show before mine on Sundays, we’d laugh that she was my warm-up woman – and I was her warm-down man!

“And that’s how I’ll always think of Julie – full of fun, but the consummate radio professional too and a passionate voice for Teesside.”

Claire Wordsworth, senior communications business partner at Wilton-based SABIC, had come to know Julie well.

She said: “I was privileged to work with Julie on several community-based events in the Redcar and Cleveland area over the past five years, including the National Citizen Service, Festival of Thrift, Inspiring Women Awards and Redcar and Cleveland Voluntary Awards.

“Julie was a friend to everyone – highly talented and professional but also warm, witty, caring and thoughtful. She was totally committed to the local community, supporting endless causes with energy and enthusiasm and was extremely generous with her time.

“She was a fantastic ambassador for Redcar and Cleveland, helping to promote charities, local businesses, attractions and events. She will be deeply missed, in so many ways.

“My sincere condolences go to her family, friends and colleagues and those who were blessed to know her. Rest in peace, Julie.”

Middlesbrough mayor Andy Preston paid his own tribute, saying: “Julie was a marvellous woman, a live wire, a force for nature and force for good.

“Julie added huge energy, fun and positivity into Teesside from her radio show and from her regular support of communities and charities.

“Anyone who ever met her will miss her dearly.”

Dave Allan, of Resolution Media and Publishing, added: “We were saddened to hear of Julie’s passing. She was clearly much loved across Teesside.

“Unlike many others, I didn’t know Julie well but felt an affinity to her after she was shortlisted for our inaugural Tees Businesswomen Awards two years ago.

“All at Tees Business send their deepest sympathies to Julie’s family, colleagues and friends.”

Julie is pictured at the 2018 Tees Businesswomen Awards.