Community Chest Awards Evening 2021: Sussex winners revealed

The Sussex recipients of the Community Chest Eastern Awards 2021 have been revealed.

The awards, which are in their 20th year, are run by Hall and Woodhouse — a British family brewery founded in 1777 — with media partners JPIMedia Sussex, which was represented by editorial director Gary Shipton.

Every year, £50,000 is given to great local organisations in the South.

Business directors, Mark Woodhouse and Lucinda Gray, were on hand to distribute nearly £25,000 to 18 Sussex charities at Goffs Manor, Crawley last Thursday night. Guest speaker Richard Curtis BEM passed on the big cheques.

Nearly £25,000 was distributed to 19 Sussex charities at Goffs Manor in Crawley. Photo: Phil Westlake

The charities to receive grants were; Burgess Hill Shed (£1,666); Chichester Boys Club (£1,500); Chichester Down Syndrome Support Group (£1,000); Defiant Sports, based in Eastbourne (£1,500); Forward Facing, in Brighton (£1,500); Horsham Debt Advice Service (£1,500); Les Alden Foundation in Worthing (£1,500); Littlehampton Child Contact Centre (£500); Littlehampton Shopmobility (£2,500); Lorica Trust: East Clayton Farm, in Washington (£1,438); Nature Nurture Sussex, in Pease Pottage (£438); Pippa's Group in Lewes(£569); Mid Sussex RDA (£1,500); Rox Music and Arts, in Bognor Regis (£500); Sussex Prisoners' Families, in Brighton (£1,500); TotRockinBeats / Dad La Soul, Worthing (£1,000); UK Harvest, near Chichester (£1,500) and You Raise Me Up, near Polegate (£1,000).

Hilary Hughes, a volunteer at Chichester Boys Club, said the money will go towards new smoke detectors and fire doors at the historic building.

"Having this is brilliant as Covid has been a nightmare," she said. "We've lost some of our major lettings which would have helped fund this.

"This is going to make us be able to serve our community safely."

The awards, which are in their 20th year, are run by Hall and Woodhouse, with media partners JPIMedia Sussex. Photo: Phil Westlake

Chichester Down Syndrome's grant will help to fund vital speech therapy sessions.

Volunteer fundraiserNatalie Hodges and events co-ordinator Kath Lake said: "It will make a massive difference to all the children who have access to speech therapy.

"All these kids have down syndrome, without being able to talk. They can't be understood and they can't get over their needs.

"They've all got something valid to say so this gives them a voice.

"A whole host of children will benefit from this."

Nature Nurture Sussex, a forest school operating in Mid Sussex, will use the grant to pay for insurance.

"We cannot operate without it," said volunteer directors Sara McCellan and Sarah Hawkins.

"It will make a huge difference. It means we can focus on putting money to people with additional needs and disabilities.

"We literally lost our income during Covid [so] a huge thank you to Hall and Woodhouse as this takes a lot of pressure and worry off."

East Clayton Farm chairmanRobin Hobson said the money will go towards helping children, who struggle in mainstream school, learn music in a 'really unusual setting outside'.

Robin initially approached the National Trust, with a view to developing the farm for people, as well as farming and conservation. It now integrates marginalised and troubled young people, many with learning disabilities, with adults and older people

"It's great, I'm really pleased," Robin said of the grant. "Music is really important."

Horsham Debt Advice Service, which was founded by local churches, has become an even more invaluable service in recent times, to help people suffering from financial problems.

Representing the charity, John Raynham said: "We are absolutely delighted [with the grant] because our income has been a bit down.

"There's no criteria, we will look after anybody. The only thing we ask is if they are serious about addressing their debt.

"They can come from anywhere and it doesn't matter how they got into debt.

"We don't charge so we need advisors prepared to give their time for nothing. We also need to get people to know about us.

"We believe there's a big problem which can get worse because of the economic situation. If you've got a debt problem, why don't you come to us.

"We are here to help and it won't cost you anything other than time."

Ian McCulloch added: "When they cross the threshold for the first time, it's probably one of the bravest things they've ever done. They know we are non judgmental and will try to help."

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Candice Konig, CEO at Forward Facing, was 'so pleased' with the grant.

The charity supports families whose children are living with long-term or life-limiting conditions or those who have suffered bereavement or hardship.

Candice added: "We've worked all the way through Covid, we've not stopped.

"We've been struggling for money so this will give us money to spend for our lovely families.

"We do different personalised hampers for people. It's about £50 a hamper and we can send them to hospitals."

Steve Goodheart collected a grant on behalf of Rox Music and Arts.

The charity puts on events throughout the year to support music and the arts in and around the Bognor Regis area.

Steve said: "We've been using a 40ft container for the last two years to store boxes of equipment and other community equipment in the unit.

"We managed to find a farmer who could rent land to us so we could use it to store the container [but] there's a constant ongoing requirement to pay the rent.

"Before, we were beg, stealing and borrowing to try to cover it."

Dad La Soul will be able to develop its unique support group in Worthing thanks to the new grant.

"It's incredible," said founder, and dad, Dan Flanagan, who has also launched a Chichester group.

"This started in a very different world, and then Covid came along.

"We started online sessions and had the world's first international dad's day, with people from Germany and Spain taking part.

"It doesn't matter if you're a dad who is a billionaire or if you're on a low income. You still need friends.

"The money will be spent around research and development and what we can do next. It's about future sustainability.

"You go onto Google and see there are thousands of mother and baby groups but where do the dads go?

"It's sometimes embarrassing for dads to put their hands up and say they need some friends. They may have moved to a new area.

"We've got about 10,000 members now from all over the world. It's going worldwide. This just doesn't exist anywhere else.

"These are strangers making friends."

Meanwhile, the grant received by Littlehampton Shopmobility will go ‘a long way towards’ the charity’s recovery.

Chairman Alan Gammon said: “We wish to thank the brewery and their customers for the generous award to the charity.

“The pandemic took its toll on our finances.

“The charity has essential services and worked by taking telephone bookings all through the lockdowns to enable our customers to access the shops.”