Community Chest awards donate £15,000 to charity

The Community Chest award winners.
The Community Chest award winners.

CHARITIES and organisations across the county gathered to claim a share of £15,000 thanks to the Hall and Woodhouse Community Chest Awards on Thursday September 22.

More than 20 community organisations were beneficiaries at the annual event which took place this year at The Olive Branch in West Street, Horsham.

Speaking at the ceremony, Mark Woodhouse, chairman of Hall and Woodhouse family brewers, said: “This is one of the best nights of the year.

“We spend a lot of our time trying to make money but it’s really nice to be able to put something back into the community that supports us.

“We are eternally grateful as a company to have Sussex Newspapers promoting the Community Chest.

“We never cease to be amazed how such a small amount of money can be put to such good use. This is always a very fun, but a humbling experience.”

Amongst the winners was the Billingshurst Emergency Assistant Team, who were granted £500. Spokesperson Garry Commins said: “I’m really pleased - this is our second time trying and the second time we’ve got something, so it just goes to show how generous the company are.

“The money will go towards more defibrillators to be fitted across the village. We have already located two sites for them.”

Members of the Pulborough Volunteer Visiting Scheme received £300 to put towards their travel expenses. Organiser Gillie Sutton Smith commented: “Over the past year we have taken on a number of clients that are further a field which has increased our travel expenses.

“The money that was generously donated tonight will go towards that, and we’re so grateful for it.”

Also benefiting from the donations was 75-year-old Anne Gillson, of Friends Like Us in Horsham. The £130 means she and other members of the mobility group will be able to enjoy a Christmas meal at Crawley College. Myself and the members can’t go out walking around museums or anything like that, so all we wanted was a nice Christmas dinner.

“We’re absolutely thrilled and so grateful to be given the money - tonight has been fantastic, and I didn’t expect the nice meal after either!”

A fine spread of fish and chips, mini roast beef yorkshire puddings, and an assortment of other dining delicacies was made available for all the grant winners to enjoy - and this being a Hall and Woodhouse event, the bar was graciously open to all as well.

Gary Shipton, editor-in-chief, praised Mark Woodhouse’s generosity. He said: “Mark is an absolute star.

“I have had the privilege of working with him for the past four years. He is thorough and passionate about these awards. They aren’t handed out lightly and a lot of research goes into them.

“He believes his pubs should be at the heart of the community that he supports.

“We are proud to stand beside Hall and Woodhouse. We have made such a large difference to the community.”

Mark himself ended the awards by saying: “The good news is, we do it all again next year.”

To view photos from the night click on the Community Chest awards link (right).