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Let’s spread some festive cheer as we thank organisations who have supported us this year

Hi Sunshine News readers,


The Sunshine Fund office is looking VERY festive at the moment – some might say it looks like Santa’s workshop as we prepare to take our highly anticipated Santa Grotto Bus on the road NEXT WEEK! We’ve been given an ETA from Santa and his trusty elf, Whizzbang, and our lovely friends from Stagecoach are kindly going to collect them in their Stagecoach sleigh this weekend!


We have been working hard like little elves ourself and are confident that this year will be bigger and better than ever! We’ll be paying some very special visits early in the week, and will be at Kingston Park Tesco on Tuesday 12th. Then, our 4-day stint on Northumberland Street will begin!


You can come see us all day everyday in Newcastle city centre from Thursday 14th – Sunday 17th December. Our Santa Bus will be stationed outside TK Maxx and our bus provides a grotto experience that welcomes all ages and abilities. Our bus is fully accessible, no booking is required, and all visits to Santa are free to all.


Friday 15th is also Christmas Jumper Day, so you can bet we’ll be competing for the best festive knit amongst the team! If you still haven’t decided on a charity to do CJD for, please consider us. We ask participants to donate £2 on the day, and to share photos on social media using the hashtag #sunshinefundCJD.


We kicked off the festive season by spreading some joy across Eldon Square last Friday lunchtime. We had the pleasure of welcoming the wonderful North East Gospel Choir to Upper Grey’s Quarter to sing some Christmas tunes – and what a performance it was!


If we weren’t feeling festive before, we certainly did after! The choir performed fantastically and in the hour we were there we raised over £170 – an amazing amount that will help us continue our work providing support and funding life-changing equipment to children with disabilities, additional needs and terminal illness in our region.

One member of the choir even came up to us and told us how she used to sell perfume to raise funds for The Sunshine Fund back in the 1950s – how amazing to have come full circle, especially as we approach our 100th birthday! The choir have provided the perfect soundtrack to our upcoming Christmas video, and we have a feeling it won’t be the last time we hear from them…

On the subject of choirs, we’d also like to thank the talented Sing United Choir who recently announced that they raised £1,168.79 earlier in the year as they dedicated their summer term to fundraising for us. As we near the end of 2023, we wanted to look back at some of our biggest supporters this year as we celebrate Sunshine Fund advocates old and new.


We recently paid a visit to one of our long-term supporters, True Potential, where they presented a giant cheque totalling £20,633 which was raised in this year’s Great North Run campaign! We also took this opportunity to sit down and discuss plans for 2024 – we have some very exciting things in the pipeline! All will be revealed soon…

More recently, we have connected with Inspired Outsourcing, who we first engaged with at our Sunshine Zipline. We’ve had some exciting conversations and started talking about future plans, one of which is imminent!


The fantastic Sinead Linsley will be joining us on the Santa Bus next Thursday in the city centre where she’ll be dressed as an elf to entertain passers-by. Sinead brings with her a w(elf) of experience(!) and we can’t wait to continue discussions about future partnerships.


We’ve also caught up with Irwin Mitchell, who have been supporters of our charity for several years now, and we discussed lots of upcoming opportunities for the year ahead. The team are hosting a Christmas Quiz to fundraise for us in a couple of weeks time, and will be providing support in a volunteering capacity at the Santa Bus.


We couldn’t mention the Santa Bus without sending a heartfelt thank you to the amazing team at the Stagecoach Slatyford depot, who have not only put hours of work into preparing the Santa Grotto Bus (such as wrapping up chocolate selection boxes and books for pupils we’ll be visiting) ahead of the busy week itself, but they are also collecting donations for us on their bus routes throughout the whole of December!

The team are always so enthusiastic when it comes to dressing up, especially around Christmas, and we’ve been loving seeing how the drivers have been spreading cheer to passengers across the region! They are keeping the total amounts raised a secret until Christmas, but we can’t wait to see the results!


And lastly, we also have teams of volunteers from various local organisations joining us throughout next week, who will be collecting across the city centre and helping us to spread some joy. In addition to Irwin Mitchell, we’ll have teams from Accenture, Softcat, NHSBSA and 99th Garrison.


Corporate support doesn’t always mean donations, it can be anything from sharing our social media posts to volunteering, fundraising for us, participating in and attending our events, to sponsoring larger scale campaigns. We have a full Christmas Corporate Support Pack which has everything companies need to know about supporting The Sunshine Fund. Simply visit www.thesunshinefund.org/christmas.


Our next column will be written write in the middle of our Santa Bus week, and I can’t wait to tell you all about it. Until then, please do come and say hello if you are out shopping in the city centre, or if you’re local to Kingston Park, and please spread the word.


Our Grotto welcomes all, and with all of us feeling the impact of the cost of living crisis this year, we think that putting on things like our Santa Bus is so important, now more than ever. If you happen to have anything to spare, donations are very much welcome and we’ll have collection buckets all over town as well as digital options, and all proceeds will go towards improving the lives of local babies, children and young adults with complex needs.


You can hear more about just how far donations go as we share stories from families and organisations we have supported this year in our Christmas Appeal. Our appeal pieces are being published weekly on Chronicle Live, in print in the paper, and the full versions can be found on our website at https://www.thesunshinefund.org/appeal, or by scanning the QR code below.


This week we talk about how we’ve supported local organisation, North East Sight Matters, by providing a bundle of various pieces of equipment that are being used by children and young people with visual impairments and sigh loss, to enhance their experience of particular activities, and to make them more accessible.


Thanks for reading,

Sophie

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