A lifeline charity which helps people with disabilities has been formally handed a huge £25,000 grant.
Earlier this year it was announced that Hartlepool Special Needs Support Group, which is based in Park Road in the town, was to be given £25,000 from the Masonic Charitable Foundation.
The organisation helps young people with profound physical or learning disabilities with their educational and leisure needs.
Eight local charities have benefited to the tune of £79,000 from a series of special Community Awards from Durham Freemasons following an unprecedented public vote of 178,801 votes across England and Wales.
The Community Awards are a major part of Freemasonry’s 300th anniversary celebrations.
The Masonic Charitable Foundation is distributing three million pounds to 300 charities across the country, with the public vote deciding on the range of awards from £4,000 to £25,000.
As well as Hartlepool Special Needs Support Group, Centrepoint North East was given £6,000, as was Teesdale Disability Access Forum.
The charities were presented with their Awards at a special ceremony at the Lancastrian Suite in Dunston, Gateshead, by the Provincial Grand Master Norman Eric Heaviside from Durham Freemasons and David Innes, chief executive officer from the Masonic Charitable Foundation.
The £3million fund is being administered by the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which obtains all of its funding from Freemasons, their families and friends.
It is estimated that half of Freemasonry’s total charitable expenditure of over £33million goes to charities that help people in communities across the country.
Mr Heaviside said: “We are delighted to be able to celebrate 300 years of Freemasonry by helping eight excellent local worthy causes.
“We’ve been active in charity work for all that time, but this is the first occasion we’ve asked the public to help us decide how to spend our money.
“We are very pleased that so many people from within our Durham Province took part in the vote.”
About 100 families use the services of Hartlepool Special Needs Support Group, which offers youth and children’s groups, drop-in days, and the use of a sensory room.
Staff also put on pamper days to give mums and carers a well-earned break.