Woman from East Preston who raised over £300,000 for the NSPCC retires after 46 years of service

A veteran jam-maker is stepping back from her role with the NSPCC after decades of volunteering and fundraising.

Jennie McNair, from East Preston, was presented with an oil painting of Arundel Castle by the Duchess of Norfolk at a volunteer party held in Her Grace’s private gardens on August 31.

Jenny, 86, first became involved with the charity in 1975, when she organised a concert. She has been district president of the Rustington, East Preston and Ferring Committee since 1990. Originally district chair, Jennie obtained the title of president when she realised she could raise the most money for children by focusing her efforts on prolific jam-making.

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Known locally as ‘Jennie’s Jams’, Jennie has raised more than £300,000 for child protection and said the presentation by the Duchess of Norfolk had been come as a surprise.

The Duchess of Norfolk, Jennie McNair, and Rosemary Hannam, Branch secretary. Photo from NSPCC

“I knew nothing about it until I got there,” she said. “Rosemary, our branch secretary, said there was going to be a presentation and I was so busy looking round wondering who it was going to be, and then she called my name. It was lovely. The NSPCC has given me a wonderful life, really.”

An integral part of the East Preston community, great-grandmother Jennie holds two annual events at her home in Vicarage Lane: a February beetle drive and a Christmas coffee morning, which on average raise £2,200 each year. This coming Christmas coffee morning, which will be held on October 29 from 10am, will be Jennie’s last, as she will soon be moving to a smaller home.

Kate Hershkowitz, NSPCC community fundraising manager for Sussex, said: “Fundraisers like Jennie are so vital to the work of the NSPCC in helping to protect children, and we are so grateful for all her hard work and commitment over the decades. She has been a fantastic ambassador for the NSPCC and we are very lucky to have had her support.

“Around 90 per cent of our funding comes from the public, so we are always looking for new people in Sussex to get involved and join a fundraising committee or set up their own group. We hope that Jennie will inspire others to join us.”

Jennie McNair, from East Preston, is stepping back from her role as part of the NSPCC South and Mid Sussex Branch after several decades of volunteering. Photo from NSPCC

Jennie added: “I think our AGM at Arundel Castle each year is my NSPCC highlight of my year. I got my gold badge there in 2019 from the NSPCC and I was on cloud nine. Then I had a phone call from the Lord-Lieutenant’s office asking if I would like to go to the Buckingham Palace garden party. It was such a lovely surprise but sadly, due to Covid, I couldn’t go.

“But I would much rather have this presentation here amongst my friends, and I think you need to treasure friends.”

Anyone interested in joining an NSPCC fundraising group, or who would like to find out more about the Christmas coffee morning, should contact Kate via email to [email protected] or by calling 020 3772 9112.