Delight over £24k raised

Colin Austin and Harry Bennett (right) of the Macmillan charity pictured wityh Frank Ayre(centre) following the cheque presentatuion at Inta Fitness, Easington Colliery.

Colin Austin and Harry Bennett (right) of the Macmillan charity pictured wityh Frank Ayre(centre) following the cheque presentatuion at Inta Fitness, Easington Colliery.

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CANCER charity bosses received £24,000 from generous east Durham residents last year.

Chiefs at Peterlee’s Macmillan Cancer Support committee are overwhelmed by the figure.

This is despite the cash total reaching around twice as much in previous years through donations from former chairmen of the now-abolished District of Easington Council.

Harry Bennett, who is founder member of the committee and also a Peterlee town councillor, appeared in the Mail in April last year saying the charity had been averaging annual charity funds of at least £50,000, with the figure usually including a substantial donation from the presiding district council chairman.

But since the district council was abolished in April 2009 to make way for Durham County Council’s new unitary authority, the charity has lost around half its income.

But Coun Bennett said he and his fellow committee members are still “delighted” by the £24,000 sum, which they have sent to national Macmillan bosses to be dispersed on cancer care.

Coun Bennett, who set up the committee in 1975 and is committee secretary, said: “It would have been double, but we are still pleased.

“In 2010, Macmillan Cancer Support gave more than £100m to County Durham. Seventy-four nurses are now in place and it costs £180,000 to train each nurse.”

He said the money was raised through various charity nights, an annual June pub crawl and the Boxing Day dip at Crimdon, as well as various collections.

A charity night held at Peterlee Catholic Club, in Grampian Drive, on January 28, saw £600 raised for the cause.

“The generosity of the people of the Easington district is fantastic,” he added.

“We could have had a lot more, but we are still happy with donations from people, especially during the credit crunch.

“We have spent most of our time running around picking up cheques.”

The last district council chairman, Councillor Leo Taylor, who is chairman of Wingate Parish Council, gave the charity £23,000.

Durham County Council previously said savings made by becoming a unitary authority meant the creation of area-based funds that can be allocated to community and voluntary groups, such as Macmillan Cancer Support, according to priorities set by local people through Area Action Partnerships (AAPs).

A charity night in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support will take place at Easington Workingmen’s Club, in Seaside Lane, Easington Colliery, from 7pm, on February 25.

Entertainment will come from local band Central Park and tickets cost £3.

For more information, call Coun Bennett on (0191) 5863263,