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The end of an eventful year

Hi Sunshine News readers,

I know I say this every December, but how is this possibly our last Sunshine News column of the year?

I cannot believe how quickly this year as flown by, and just how eventful its been! Luckily, its been a real year of hope for our charity.

We have supported hundreds of North East based children with life changing equipment, ran a variety of family events and parent support sessions, provided signposting advice to families all over the UK and welcomed supporters back to our events. In such uncertain times and in the midst of a financial crisis, our supporters have never let us down and we cannot thank you enough for enabling us to keep going, to keep spreading sunshine and improving lives of children with disabilities.

Regular readers will know, I'm a heart on my sleeve kind of person, I regularly tear up when meeting our families or squeal with excitement if a big donation comes in. I’ve shouted and cheered our Sunshine kids across the finish line at events and shared our parents anger and upset when their children have been unfairly treated or underestimated.

So when I say this year has been our biggest emotional rollercoaster to date, I truly mean it. Earlier this year we had to delay equipment payments for a number of children on our February equipment list because we simply did not have the funds available to pay out the £72,000 we needed to from just one round.

As a small, local charity we do not sit on huge financial reserves, we don’t have a trading arm and we don’t receive any government funding. It was a heart breaking time for us, knowing that children were waiting for wheelchairs, walking frames and beds and that there were no other places for them to turn.

In true Sunshine Fund fashion, we rolled up our sleeves and got to work organising fundraising events, running awareness campaigns and we even met with local MPS and researchers because we believe that we can inform policy to enforce real change in our region and that’s how we will improve resources and facilities for disabled children in the future. I'm proud to say that due to the hard work, no, the tireless dedication of our team we have managed to pay out more equipment this year than ever before to families, schools and other charities caring for children with complex needs.

I hope you, our loyal readers, supporters and donors, feel as proud of that as we do.

This year we welcomed back many of our events which had been cancelled due to the Covid Pandemic such as our iconic Sunshine Run where 350 participants and supporters turned the Quayside yellow, our ever popular Question of Sport which saw Natwest crowned this years winners and our fabulous trek team smashed the Yorkshire Three Peaks! Our Great North Runners were pleased that the event reverted back to its original route with the all important South Shields finish line land our annual ball returned with a Mama Mia theme to wow over 240 guests.

Events are such an important way for us to generate income, without them we simply could not fund the equipment the children need. Perhaps our most important events of the year have been the free family events, trips and parents sessions that we host to help our families make special memories together, offer practical and financial support or training opportunities.

These have included everything from fabulous neuro diverse sensory play sessions to benefit reviews and paediatric first aid for parent/carers. Without donations from our readers and supporters, we could not hold these sessions for free.

Delivering these sessions gives our team so much joy, working face to face with our beneficiaries and experiencing first hand the differences our equipment and services make to them and their families truly is the best part of our jobs.

This Christmas has seen our biggest Accessible Santa grotto yet. We have seen well over a thousand visitors throughout December during our time on Northumberland Street and out in the community visiting schools, community hubs and charities across the region.

We’ve had signing and signing elves From True Colours Theatre Group and Star Wars characters from our friends at North East Legion, corporate and children’s choirs and volunteers from all walks of life give up their time for free to make this our most magical Christmas ever. We have been truly humbled by the stories our visitors have shared, the donations the general public have made and the kindness shown to our staff, volunteers and Stagecoach drivers as they have worked tirelessly to collect for us this December. As I look back and reflect upon this year, I'm proud to see how far we have come.

But the year is not over yet, we still have Holly Ball on Boxing day to look forward to! We are thrilled that this much loved ball is back and this year takes place at the newly refurbished ‘As You Like It’ in Jesmond.

It really is the most glamourous event in the festive calendar and guests can enjoy a spectacle of entertainment with a sprinkling of festive cheer hosted by Stereo Typical, with live music, showgirls and casino tables to off your Christmas celebrations in style. As You Like It and our wonderful friends at The Apartment Group have been supporting the Sunshine Fund with their Santas Grottos this year and are extending this support by making us the charity beneficiary of this Year’s Holly Ball.

We feel this is the perfect way to round off 2022! Tickets are still available and you can even get a reduced rate when you order by quoting “Sunshine”.

Merry Christmas and a happy new year to all of you. May you find peace, love and joy this festive season however you choose to celebrate. Thank you to every Sunshine News reader, donor and supporter of our small charity. We hope you feel as proud of The Chronicle Sunshine Fund as we do.

We’ll be back in January 2023 and we cant wait to share next years plans with you all!