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Long-awaited Question of Sport quiz and hello from new team member

Hi Sunshine News readers,

I'm delighted to be saying my first hello as the new Fundraising Events Coordinator at Sunshine HQ! My name is Amanda, and I’m already absolutely loving being a part of Team Sunshine.

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending my first event in post – Question of Sport! As my first column, I’d love to take you through the sparkling highlight of the week, but also tell you a little bit about my experience of entering the charity sector from a different background.

Well, where do I start? The rumours are true, The Sunshine Fund certainly know how to put on a show! Allow me to paint a picture for those who didn’t attend: our quizzers had a ‘popping’ good time during the drink’s reception with our balloon raffle and very competitive darts games.

As the rounds of questions unfolded, so did the enthusiasm (and some healthy rivalry!) in the room to fight for the all-important trophy. From general knowledge and football to music and picture rounds, there was something for everyone!

Thank you to Big Purple who devised the quiz and supported us with amazing AV. But at the end of the night, only one team could take home the prestigious trophy, and for the second year running, the winners were Natwest!

Admittedly, Team Sunshine was secretly rooting for our “Dad’s Table”, a table full of the Dad’s of some of our Sunshine families – 2nd place is still a fantastic score guys, especially when you were only 1 point away from being champions!

I also had the privilege of meeting some extraordinary families that we've had the honour of supporting. The love and strength of the Ward family was captured in our family video, which was produced by The Bigger Picture.

They told how their children, Jack and Poppy, face many different barriers each day, yet they always find happiness as a family. With the help of a good bounce on a trampoline or chilling out and feeling secure in a Protac chair, it’s evident that the equipment that we provide goes so far to changing family lives.

I’m sure you’ll agree, they are nothing short of inspiring. I’d like to sincerely thank Sheri, Andy, Jack and Poppy for sharing it with us, every story reinforces why our work is so crucial.

We would really love to take this opportunity to thank the wonderful individuals and businesses who have been kind enough to donate prizes and support us with this event. First, a huge thank you to Lowes Financial Management for being continuous sponsors of this event for the 4th year and donating a golfing experience at Close House as the ‘Putt & Miss’ prize.

We’d like to thank The Grand Hotel for yet again being a fabulous venue for us to hold Question of Sport, and to Sky Sports’ Pete Graves for being a humorous, enthusiastic host who was fantastic at engaging the crowd throughout! We also had a team of wonderful volunteers who were an asset to the team – we really couldn’t do our black-tie events without their help so thank you!

This year, for both our auction and raffle prizes, we had some fantastic bundles up for grabs. For this, we’d like to thank the following: YMU Group, Disney On Ice, Waldorf Astoria Hotel, Centre for Life, Pizza Punks, As You Like It, NUFC Foundation, local Paralympian Stephen Miller, Newcastle Falcons, The Grand Hotel, Billy Bootleggers, Crosby Loves Cheese, Five Little Pins, Bernicia Candles, Cake Stories, The Royal Albert Hall, Hay & Kilner, LNER, Lumo, AJ Massage Therapies, Stephen Crawford – Spiritualist Medium, Spiritus Paranormal and Orange John 3 Peaks Challenges.

Alongside our own auction, we had the fantastic Impulse Decisions supporting us with a silent auction and very kind prize donations – thank you guys! And of course, everyone who participated and donated on the night!

Not only was it an evening of fun and games, but a testament to the generosity of our supporters. You can watch our video of the night here:

So, that was Question of Sport! A catapult into the role, and into an inspirational community.

On that note, I’d just like to share an insight into my time joining the charity sector, as it’s not quite as I imagined. I am a qualified Interior Designer practicing for 5 years and have worked in retail and customer service since 16.

I’ve had experience working with charities and non-profits over the years; volunteering as a Young Leader in a Scouts group for children with autism and complex needs, coaching in a local cheerleading squad for several years, and taking part in countless fun-runs and sponsored activities. But it’s safe to say that my eyes were opened when I joined The Sunshine Fund.

Of course, we’ve all got an understanding of how the pandemic has affected businesses. I saw it throughout my time in retail, hearing from friends with small businesses, and like yourselves, watching the news and the devastating impact it has had.

However, I had never realised the impact that it would have on our charities. There’s still so much to learn, but already I have understood the increased need for fundraising to continue to support children, young people and their families in the North East.

But with this, comes appreciation. I truly offer heartfelt acknowledgement and gratitude to our loyal volunteers, donors, corporate sponsors, and supporters of The Sunshine Fund.

And with that… it’s nearly December! Surely, I can’t be the only one who’s blinked and it’s Christmas?!

It would be an understatement to say that I am excited for the next month (and 2024!) Whether it’s popping into Eldon Square on December 1 for some lunchtime carol singing with North East Gospel Choir, taking part in our Christmas Jumper Day on 15th December, or joining us on Northumberland Street for our accessible Santa’s Grotto Bus from 14th to 17th December, we’re very much looking forward to you celebrating Christmas with The Chronicle Sunshine Fund! Keep your eyes peeled for some exciting event announcements for 2024, see you there!

Warmest wishes,