Hartlepool lottery winner's fundraising appeal reaches halfway mark in just weeks
A £50,000 fundraising drive to provide a new respite caravan for young carers has reached the halfway mark in just weeks.
EuroMillions winner Frances Connolly, who recently revealed how she has donated around half of her £115m fortune to family and friends, is spearheading the UChangeLives25 campaign.
It has already raised £25,000 since it was launched on January 15 and Mrs Connolly’s Hartlepool-based charity, the PFC Trust, hopes to reach the target before Good Friday, April 2.
Mrs Connolly’s own efforts have seen her lose 15lbs in five weeks through a calorie-controlled diet and exercise.
She intends to lose 25lbs to tie in with the challenge, which urges people to focus on the figure 25.
That is the minimum number of unpaid hours of work many young carers complete each week for their families.
More than 60 individuals and groups have signed up so far to support the push to help Hartlepool Carers and Stockton-based Eastern Ravens.
Mrs Connolly, 54, who lived in Hartlepool for a quarter of a century, thanked everyone for their backing and added: “I have spent two years changing people’s lives, personally or through charities.
"This latest lockdown seemed so much more oppressive. It is time to give everyone a chance to change lives as well.
“The best way to do that is to lead from the front, so I started the first challenge. I am a great believer in getting involved and I want others to follow.
“I have my own mobility issues, so my husband and children have looked after me for nearly 15 years.
"I have needed different levels of care and they didn’t realise they were carers, they loved me, and it needed doing.
“I am conscious a lot of people, young and old, are carers but don’t realise they are.
"When you think children as young as five are having to fetch or carry for a disabled parent.
"It beggars belief a childhood can be cut short with that kind of responsibility. If this helps relieve that in a tiny way, that’s what we will do.”
Appeal supporters include Big Town Tidy Up volunteers in Hartlepool, who have raised £1,000, while Poolie Time Exchange has recorded a version of Queen’s classic Bohemian Rhapsody anthem to get local businesses to donate too.
Carl Jorgeson and Kelly Daley are running the project on behalf of the trust, which was set up by Mrs Connolly and husband Patrick after winning the lottery in 2019 to support and fund community projects within Hartlepool.
Mr Jorgeson said: “It is our privilege to be able to do what we do, to help the community in so many different ways.
“It is something people can get stuck into from a sport perspective, when clubs are closed, and we can still help the wider community. There is something tangible at the end of it too because this will have a lasting impact.”