THE Gazette’s efforts to help rescue a charity from financial ruin after heartless thieves left it £1,700 out of pocket has been praised by the industry body for newspapers.
In February, dismayed members at Arun Co-ordinated Community Transport (ACCT), based at the Rudford Industrial Estate, in Ford, appealed to the Gazette for help following a devastating break-in.
The crime jeopardised the future of the charity that is a vital transport link for hundreds of elderly people across Arun.
After the Gazette reported about the charity’s plight, generous readers dug deep, donating more than £1,800 to stunned staff at ACCT in little more than seven days.
The paper’s effort has now been highlighted by the Newspaper Society as part of Local Newspaper Week, which starts on Monday (May 12).
The week aims to highlight the good work and positive impact the local press has on its community.
Peter Austin, project manager at Arun Co-ordinated Community Transport, said the Gazette’s help was instrumental in saving the charity.
He said: “Without a doubt the publicity we received from the Gazette helped encourage people to give so generously.
“The Gazette’s help was instrumental. It was the sole reason we got so many donations.”
Mr Austin added: “We were totally stunned by all the donations. The Brockenhurst Care Home, in Littlehampton, donated £1,000 to us and we had another care home donating £500. It was amazing.”
The public are now being asked to choose the best local newspaper campaign of the past year which has made the biggest difference in an online vote this month.
The Newspaper Society compiled a shortlist of 30 campaigns from across the UK.
The Gazette’s effort will be up against stiff competition from regional daily newspapers like the Yorkshire Post and Manchester Evening News.
The Gazette’s editor-in-chief Gary Shipton said: “I am overjoyed at the Gazette’s nomination.
“It just goes to show how vital a role good local papers have within their communities and how our campaigns can inspire our readers to support needy causes.”
Lynne Anderson, of the Newspaper Society, said: “People have always turned to the regional press for help when they have nowhere else to go.
“This ‘making a difference’ showcase gives a flavour of how the local paper as the trusted voice in its community can go into battle on behalf of readers, give voice to their concerns and change lives for the better.”
The showcase of all the campaigns shortlisted will go live at www.localnewspaperweek.co.uk on Monday, where readers will be able to vote for their favourites.
The winner will be announced on May 16.