'A massive thank you' to Mail readers after £50,000 Hartlepool appeal reaches target
“A massive thank you” is the message to Mail readers and the people of Hartlepool as a whole after an appeal to buy a new caravan for the town’s carers reached its £50,000 target.
The UChangeLives25 campaign, powered by Frances Connolly and her husband Patrick Connolly’s PFC Trust, has inspired people from across Hartlepool and the Tees Valley to raise money over the last 12 weeks.
Its aim was to secure enough by Good Friday to provide a respite caravan for the town’s young carers.
A delighted Mrs Connolly, who founded the PFC Trust to help local communities after winning the EuroMillions lottery in 2019, has now announced that the appeal has hit its target in time.
She said: “You could have knocked me over with a feather if I’d known what would happen when we decided to do this.
“The support has been absolutely fantastic from the people of Hartlepool and friends across the world.
"We are also grateful for the readers of the Hartlepool Mail who have decided to donate and help the cause.
“In fact, it’s a big thanks to everyone who supported by doing a challenge, donating or spreading the word – and a special thanks to my whole team of trustees who not only did a challenge but drove and promoted the project throughout.
Mrs Connolly, who is well known for her generosity to help good causes, raised £15,000 herself by losing weight.
She was one of a group of 20 slimmers who shed just under 300lbs and raised a further figure of almost £7,500 between them.
Her daughters, Fiona and Natalie, smashed the £5,000 barrier together and a long list of others contributed too.
Hartlepool Carers themselves raised £5,000, while more than £2,000 was raised by a group of 15 nurses from the South Tees NHS Foundation Trust.
Christine Fewster, the chief executive of Hartlepool Carers, said: “We are overwhelmed by the generosity of the community. The difference to young carers’ lives is going to be incredible. It is so hard to mention everyone.
“Frances came up with the idea just after Christmas, so to get £50,000 during the pandemic is astounding. The community has backed us all of the way.”
The plan now is for the PFC Trust, Hartlepool Carers and the Stockton-based carers group Eastern Ravens to come up with a location for a caravan.
Mrs Connolly said: “Christine, Tracey Hamilton from Eastern Ravens and me have booked appointments and we are going to go shopping for a caravan now later this month.
“The caravan will go somewhere just far enough for the young carers to feel like they are going on holiday but not too far to make it difficult to get there. It’s so exciting and it’s just amazing that UChangeLives25 will have such an impact.”
The idea of UC25 was for fundraisers to come up with a series of challenges centred on the number 25 to highlight the number of hours unpaid a young carer would carry out each week.
For further details on the work of the PFC Trust, go to www.thepfctrust.org.