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Saturday, 20 December 2014

Fundraisers scale the heights in 2012

FROM cash to kidneys, food to favours – the generosity of South Cumbrian communities never ceases to amaze.

It is no secret times are pretty tough in this part of the world, with many residents struggling to make ends meet.

Some battle to put food their tables, others to pay rising utility bills and still more to manage ongoing health ailments.

But as the countless charitable acts over the past 12 months have demonstrated, the kindness of others – often complete strangers – has only grown.

On a grand scale, the Furness Building Society presented the Ulverston-based St Mary’s Hospice a cheque for £142,000 in July to take its total payments beyond the £1m mark.

The money raised by a record number of entrants – almost 2,500 – in the gruelling 40-mile Keswick to Barrow challenge in May will benefit numerous local charities for years to come.

It was another big year for inspirational Ulverston teenager Alice Pyne with the launch of her own charity, Alice’s Escapes.

“Team Alice” – comprising a group of the 16-year-old’s most dedicated supporters – climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and cycled from Land’s End to John O’Groats to raise money to help the families of sick children get away on much-needed holidays.

The Barrow Foodbank, which was set up by a coalition of district churches to provide emergency food relief, was overwhelmed with both donations and users.

Since its official opening in late July, the service fed 248 adults and 55 children from the stockpile of several tonnes of food donated by community members.

But it is not only the larger charitable pursuits that have benefited the area, with dozens of smaller collections carried out by churches, workplaces and individuals.

Reverend Allan Mitchell of Dalton St Mary’s Church has been a vicar for nearly 40 years in the Furness area and said he was astonished at the benevolence of people during 2012.

“People’s generosity in this area is amazing – absolutely amazing,” he said. “It’s not just money given, people have such a generous spirit and that’s the important thing to remember.

“The people of Furness and the wider Cumbria area have got such a generous spirit of care and they respond very quickly to a person’s need or a group’s need.”

Mr Mitchell said there was something in the genetic make-up of the “northern breed” of people that set them apart from others.

“They’ve had rough times and hard times in the past and they know what need really means,” he said.

“They therefore respond to it very quickly and without asking any questions or wanting any praise and it’s a good way to live one’s life.

“They don’t have to be Christian. They’re just honest people who want to help their fellow man.”

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