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Upcoming events will celebrate The Sunshine Fund's history

Hi Sunshine News readers,


We’ve been busy bees at Team Sunshine and this week has involved a lot of rushing around as we well and truly enter events season! The next two events on our calendar take place a week apart, and while they are very different, they are both so important in many ways, and they both have a lot of meaning to them as they tie into our charity’s rich history…


A lot of people are surprised when we tell them we’re celebrating 95 years of The Sunshine Fund this year, and it’s understandable considering we are such a small charity, and given the fact we don’t receive any statutory funding. However, no matter what challenges are thrown at us, our resilience has been strong, which has been proven in recent years as we’ve survived a global pandemic and now a cost-of-living crisis.


So, where did the charity start? The Sunshine Fund actually started in 1928, meaning we’re exactly as old as the Tyne Bridge! We actually have a lot in common with the Tyne Bridge, and it’s because of the famous Newcastle landmark that we are where we are today.

UNDER CONSTUCTION: The Tyne Bridge five weeks before its official opening (Source: The Chronicle)

Upon the official opening of the Tyne Bridge in October 1928, the city received a royal visit. King George V came to Newcastle for the opening, and during his visit he noticed the significance of the deprivation in the region.


While he was here, he donated £15 (which would be equivalent to over £1,000 now!) to facilitate a trip to the seaside, for disadvantaged local children. The editor of The Newcastle Chronicle newspaper at the time then decided to continue this philanthropic mission and that’s when The Sunshine Fund was born.


Almost 100 years later, we’re still here on the same mission to improve and enrich the lives of local children, and the North East is still one of the most deprived areas of the UK. There is a direct and proven link between disability and poverty, and many families in our region are living without the specialist and adapted equipment their disabled or terminally ill children need because they simply cannot afford it.

TYNE BRIDGE OPENING: Captain Richard Embleton leading the official opening over the Tyne Bridge in 1928 (Source: The Chronicle)

So, what are we doing to recognise this milestone? We have two events in the next week which go back to our unique origin story - we really are coming full circle. On Friday, August 18, we’re working with our friends from South Shields Surf school and Beach Access North East to facilitate our very own trip to the seaside for our wonderful Sunshine Families - where cost and accessibility aren’t barriers!


And we may even have our own royal visit from supporter of the charity, the Lord Lieutenant of the North East. We’ve been refreshing the weather forecast for the past week since this August has been more autumnal than anything, but not even the temperamental North Eastern weather will dampen our moods and we’re so excited to create some unforgettable memories with the families we support!


Places have been filled fast, and the day will consist of a number of activities. We’ll be hosting morning and afternoon surf sessions, as well as ‘coastal explorers’ sessions which will include rock pooling and learning about what’s on the beach.


We’re also thrilled to have been able to provide one-on-one adapted surf sessions from the highly trained guides at South Shields Surf, so that kids with physical needs can take part and have their own surf experience with adapted equipment. We’re also working with Beach Access North East, who are providing us with some beach-friendly wheelchairs for our families to use and test out on the day.


For some, this may be the first opportunity they have to get on to the beach, and we’re over the moon to be able to facilitate this. For those who just want a day out by the sea, we’ll have our own Sunshine Base where we’ll have beach games and activities available, so kids can have fun and create special memories, and families can meet likeminded people and even make friends.

SEASIDE TRIP: The Sunshine Families Beach Day is on Friday, August 18

Our family events are so important as the growing cost of activities makes it hard for any family to book on to days out in the summer holidays, and parent/carers of children with complex needs have the added struggle of locating accessible places where their child feels included, and where their needs are met. We can’t wait to share photos of the day in next week’s column, but for now, we’d like to thank South Shields Surf school and Beach Access North East for collaborating with us on this event, The Henry Smith Charity and The LGA Foundation for providing funding so we can make this event as special as possible, and Greggs and Morrisons for donating their goods.


The following week, on Friday, August 25, we’re kicking off the bank holiday weekend with another event! This one is a little bit different as it’s a fundraising challenge, but it also goes right back to our roots.


What better way to celebrate 95 years of The Sunshine Fund than gliding off the landmark where we began? That’s right, a team of adrenaline junkies (myself included!) will be heading to Tyne Bridge to take on the Sunshine Zipline.

FLYING HIGH: The Sunshine Zipline is on Friday, August 25

Facilitated by Jelly Legs Ltd, the Tyne zipline sees challengers soar through the air at exhilarating heights and speeds, all to raise essential funds for our Sunshine Children. As the event gets closer, my nerves are definitely building, but it’ll be so worth it knowing that every penny raised is going to help us fund our next round of equipment, and that the lives of local babies, children and young adults living with disabilities, additional needs and terminal illness will be improved.


Fancy joining the team? There’s still time! Book your place by emailing Siobhan.Sargeant@thesunshinefund.org.


Tickets for The Sunshine Fund cost just £35 each, and participants pledge to raise a minimum of £50 each. The next couple of weeks are going to be so exciting, and come after lots and lots of planning.

I can’t wait to share everything we get up to - so watch this space! Thanks for reading and let’s keep our fingers crossed for dry weather in South Shields!


Sophie X


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