Morpeth Rotary Club
Three charities were each presented with a cheque for £1,150 from the Morpeth Rotary Tree of Light Christmas fund-raising appeal.
The organiser was last year’s Rotary President Rhona Dunn.
Each charity gave a short presentation on its work before cheques were handed over by Rotary President Paul Crook.
The first charity to make its presentation was the Alan Shearer Centre for Disabled People, represented by Medi Parry, Manager of Sanderson Arcade, and her Deputy Manager Filipa Conceicao.
It is the charity of the year supported by the shopping centre, which aim is to raise around £10,000 for it through special events, like an afternoon tea and raffle at Barluga, a zip wire challenge across the Tyne from the Baltic, and fashion shows at the arcade.
Alan Shearer’s wife has been very supportive of all of the efforts carried out and planned.
Charlotte Campbell spoke for the Children’s Heart Unit at the Freeman Hospital and the CHUF charity based there.
Along with Great Ormond Street, it is one of only two centres that carry out complex operations for children and babies born with heart defects.
The charity, which has been going for more than 30 years, purchases new technology equipment, such as echo heart scanning machines. The NHS cannot always afford the latest models or the number of sets it would like.
CHUF also pays for entertainers for the children on the ward, and art and craft materials for them to use.
Family members from all over the UK, including London and Northern Ireland, come to stay. CHUF helps to fund parent accommodation, working with the Sick Children’s Trust that pays the running costs.
There are 18 flats open to families with children in the heart unit.
Everyone coming to stay overnight is given a wash bag with basic essentials that cost the charity £20 each,
It is also about to buy some new daybeds that convert from an armchair so that parents do not have to sit up all night in the ward.
Next up was Audrey Anderson, who spoke for the Morpeth Contact Mental Health Group.
The group provides services for people with conditions such as learning difficulties and autism.
It is a unique service in the county, with many referrals from south east Northumberland. There is nothing else like it between Tyneside and Berwick.
As long as people are able to travel, referrals are accepted from Amble, Alnwick and Tyneside.
People are often stuck at home and isolated, and just getting through the door into the centre is a great achievement for many.
The Morpeth hub offers a drop-in facility, IT training, photography classes, relaxation therapies, social events and other activities.
It is a safe place and an outlet for people with anxieties, where someone will listen to them and take an interest.
There is some Northumberland County Council funding, but it has been much harder to raise money in recent years and there is a constant drive for income.
It is a very cost effective organisation, with only two paid staff and many volunteers.