A whopping £1.7million has been raised for the NSPCC over the last 60 years thanks to volunteers connected to the charity’s South and Mid Sussex Branch hosting events such as jam sales, quiz nights, and coffee mornings.
To celebrate Branch President The Duchess of Norfolk invited 50 volunteers and other long-standing supporters, including the High Sheriff of West Sussex, Caroline Nicholls, and the Mayor-elect of Worthing, Hazel Thorpe, to join her for afternoon tea at Arundel Castle.
The NSPCC’s CEO Peter Wanless and Chairman Mark Wood were among the guests on Monday 18 March. The reception also marked the start of a series of fundraising events which will be held over the coming year in recognition of the Branch’s Diamond Anniversary.
Since forming in February 1959, the castle has hosted the Branch’s Annual General Meetings making it the perfect setting for the occasion. The Collector Earl’s Garden was also open to the public last year to raise funds for the NSPCC and it is set to help boost the coffers again when it hosts an abseil event in March 2020.
Addressing her guests Her Grace said: “I would like to thank all of you because you all have the same desire to help children and I know you put in a lot of time and effort to raise money for the NSPCC.
“But there is one person I would really like to say thank you to and that’s (Branch Secretary) Rosemary Hannam. Your enthusiasm and your drive is amazing and I know you have been a part of this Branch for more than 40 years and in fact a lot of the reason that money has been raised is down to you.”
Rosemary, 75, from Lancing, said: “I’ve been with the NSPCC’s Lancing District Committee since 1977 and I’m Chairman of that now. I was made Branch Secretary in 1997.
“I got involved with the NSPCC because my next door neighbour Pauline Burton asked me to join the Lancing Committee and we’re still there together now.
“When I became Branch Secretary my aim was to get all the district members working together because they didn’t use to and nobody really knew each other. Now we go to each other’s events and we all know each other which is fantastic.
“The amount the Branch has raised is phenomenal. A lot of our volunteers are in their 60s 70s and 80s though so we need more young people if the Branch is to continue to have the same success in the future.”
What many people may not realise is that more than £100,000 of the £1.7 million figure has been raised singlehandedly by the President of the Rustington, East Preston and Ferring District Committee making and selling jam.
It all started back in 1975 when Jennie McNair, also known as Jennie the Jams, made her first batch of preserve for a singing concert in aid of the NSPCC.
The 84-year-old jam maker extraordinaire from East Preston said: “I make about 28 different flavours but it’s the nectarine which is the best seller closely followed by orange and ginger.
“My husband turned our double garage into a separate kitchen so I make it at home.
“I’ve made thousands of jams over the years. The best part is selling it and meeting people and going places. The worst part is thinking of all the jars I’ve had to wash. I sell them all year round at horticultural shows, anything my committee puts on and street fairs.
“It’s difficult to say how much the jam has raised alone because twice a year I hold two events at my home, a Beetle Drive at the end of February and a coffee morning at the end of October, and the jam money all goes in with it but I suspect it’s a vast amount, maybe at least £100,000!
“I want to make sure children are happy and safe and this is my way of doing it.”
Robert Naunton, Vice President and longest standing member of the Branch, started volunteering for the charity back in the 60s.
Mr Naunton, from Worthing, said: “Back then the NSPCC employed district Inspectors to investigate cases of child cruelty and neglect.
“To help the Inspectors the charity appointed solicitors in each area as Honorary Case Secretaries, a voluntary role, to oversee the Inspectors’ cases and advise them on what action, if any, should be taken.
“I was a practising solicitor working in Worthing at the time when I became an Honorary Case Secretary in 1961. I held the title until 1988 when the role started to fizzle out, partly due to boundary changes and the Inspectors working closely together as well as changes in the law and greater involvement from Local Authorities.
“It was then that I started attending the South and Mid Sussex Branch meetings and advising on their activities. Then in 2004 I was asked to become a Vice President.”
Speaking about the Branch’s achievements over the last six decades said: “What we need to do now is make sure people keep being interested in the NSPCC’s South and Mid Sussex Branch and giving their time as volunteers to help out with fundraising events and their money over the coming years.”
Anyone interested in fundraising or becoming a volunteer for the NSPCC’s South and Mid Sussex Branch is asked to contact Community Fundraising Manager Kate Hershkowitz by emailing [email protected]