Greenham Common Trust thrilled with turnout and response to 2016’s successful Pitch To The Panel event

Pitch to the PanelSupporters and friends gathered to encourage five charities which bravely faced a Dragons’ Den styled panel of judges to present their case for a share of £100,000.

Greenham Common Trust has been praised for the organisation of its 2016 Pitch to the Panel event, which saw three out of five charities get the full funding they needed.

Wednesday (November 9) was a packed evening of interest with keynote speaker Paralympian Danny Crates inspiring the audience.

He described his accident which eventually put him on the path to Paralympic glory and forged a desire to continually set and achieve goals. His overriding message was to never be scared to take a decision in life, and to not dwell on past mistakes. Instead, he advised, learn from them and move on.

Danny CratesHe said: “I believe life does not put in front of us hurdles we can’t overcome; they happen for a reason. I was not going to give up on life.”

His speech followed the presentations to the panel, and this was a spectacular night of celebration for the Trust.

Even though they only had ten minutes to pitch for their share of £100,000 the charities gave moving examples and had powerful rhetoric to help deliver their messages.

This was the thrilling end to months’ of hard work, which included mentoring provided by Newbury Rotary Club for the different groups.

The five charities which presented on the night were: 1st Burghfield and Sulhamstead Scouts; Newbury Community Resource Centre; Newbury Tennis Club; Age Concern Newbury and District; and finally, Crossroads Care Oxfordshire/West Berkshire/Windsor/Maidenhead.

Explaining why this event is so important, chief executive Chris Boulton, who hosted the evening, said: “This is an opportunity for us to showcase what the Trust can do for charities which have difficulty raising funds.

“The finalists really made their cases for vital funds which will make a difference across West Berkshire.”

Including the results of online sponsorship and text voting, three of the five charities were awarded the grant money they needed.

Sheila Colman spoke on behalf of The Newbury Tennis Club.  They received £9,747 which will cover the costs of new floodlights for the courts. The group hopes this will attract new members as they will be able to hold more sessions in the winter months.

After the event, Shelia said: “We are over the moon to receive the full amount that we needed to install floodlights on the remaining two courts at the club.

“This will double the capacity available on the courts from two to four courts and means that we can reach out to more of the community. With four floodlit courts we can now accommodate 500 members.

“It was a great event organised by the Greenham Common Trust and we would like to thank them for all of their hard work and congratulate the other finalists who received funds for their causes.”

Age Concern Newbury & District trustees, Josie Reed and Gordon Montgomery, spoke movingly about the wide benefits visitors get at their Fair Close Day Centre.

Josie said: “We offer ‘fun, food and friendship’ where the main focus is a nourishing meal for people. These are provided on site, but we also carry out a meals on wheels service, too.

“We receive no public funding, and this is much more than a day centre. It is a community hub, and by being part of an interactive group can help stave off the onset of dementia. School children visit and perform, and those with special educational needs visit to interact and help improve their social skills.”

They received £40,000 for the renovations and repairs to make the centre fit for all, and make it a more welcoming and versatile environment.

Gordon said: “It was a thrilling evening, brilliantly organised with some really deserving causes pitching and we felt lucky to be part of it.

“Best of all we were awarded the full amount we pitched for. It was a vote of confidence in our work, our project and our future. We feel confident we can now raise the rest of the money we require.

“The building works we want to do are estimated at £96,000 so, together with the monies already raised, we are well over half-way to reaching our target.”

The team hopes to start work in the spring, and complete in time for the centre’s 50th anniversary in November.

Chief Executive, Kelvin Hughes, spoke on behalf of The Newbury Community Resource Centre. There are many projects they run at Cottismore Park, near Kingsclere, but the current ‘Growing 2Gether’ project, and developing nature knowledge in young children, was the focus of the pitch.

They need funds to adapt and refurbish a self-contained unit, and refurbish the toilet facilities.

The project is designed to inspire interest in the environment and nature in children at a young age. Demand is growing for room on educational tours, and the unit will help meet that need. Growing 2Gether offers horticultural therapy for adults with learning disabilities as well as being a food growing and educational centre for all members of the local community, including school parties.

They received £16,216 which gives them 20% of funding needed, and the momentum to gain further funding from Veolia.

Afterwards Kelvin said: “It was a great and fun event. Being able to Pitch to the Panel not only enabled us to secure much needed funding but also provided us with a platform to promote the work of our project to a large and supportive local audience.”

Crossroads Care Oxfordshire/West Berkshire/Windsor/Maidenhead pitched for funds £54,000 to pay for children living with complex care needs or behavioural issues and their families to have a holiday at a static mobile home in Butlins, Minehead.

Richard Rainford, care manager, and a Crossroads Care client, Maria, spoke about the benefits the service offers. The charity wants to give around 77 children and families a much-needed break each year. They were awarded £19,836 towards their goal.

Last to present were chairman of 1st Burghfield and Sulhamstead Scouts, Mark Penston and scout group leader, Andy Hodgson. They described improvements already made to their facility, but explained the toilets dating back to the 1970s need an urgent upgrade.

They received £15,204 which will help towards reaching their final fundraising goal of £25,670.

Guests and charities had the chance to network in the early part of the evening and enjoy a complimentary drink as they came through the special red carpet entrance, at the Corn Exchange.

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