Health Secretary Matt Hancock has paid tribute to kind-hearted readers of regional publishers Newsquest’s titles in a personal video after their efforts helped raise more than £500,000 for the NHS during Covid-19.
In total across Newsquest’s network of 160 local papers, readers raised more than £503,990 for hospital charities and trusts up and down the country with its Support Our Guardian Angels campaign.
Now Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, has issued a special message of thanks to readers for their efforts in a video which has been published on Newsquest’s large network of news websites across the UK.
He said: “I am incredibly grateful to your readers for their generosity toward the Support Our NHS Guardian Angels campaign during the colossal national effort to tackle coronavirus.
“For nearly 72 years, the NHS has always been there for us, and this global pandemic has been its toughest challenge yet. Across the whole country, the bonds between our heroic NHS staff and local communities have been further strengthened by the support of your readers.”
Newsquest launched the campaign in March and its local news titles across the country raised money for NHS Charities Together and much-needed funds for local hospitals.
As part of the campaign, the Southampton Daily Echo has helped raise more than £177,000 for Southampton Hospital Charity, a pioneering centre that has been leading the way for coronavirus research during the pandemic.
Readers of The Wirral Globe have helped raise £61,207 for Wirral University Teaching Hospital’s Covid-19 support appeal.
The team at The South Wales Argus helped raise £45,095 for St David’s Hospice Care. The hospice was facing an uncertain future in April as a lack of donations saw its loss of income plummet.
The team at The Gazette in Essex have raised more than £3,000 to buy Personal Protective Equipment for medics on the frontline while an anonymous business donated an additional £7,000 to the cause, taking the total up to £10,000.
Meanwhile, The Impartial Reporter in Northern Ireland collected £10,387 for their Help Our Health Heroes campaign in conjunction with The Fermanagh Trust.
Centres were inventive with their campaign techniques. The editorial team at The Hereford Times, one of Newsquest’s flagship weekly titles, held a virtual fundraising gig over Facebook Live in honour of the group’s nationwide campaign.
Henry Faure Walker, CEO, Newsquest commented: “The essential role that local newspapers play in communities up and down the country has been underlined by the Covid crisis. Audiences to our local websites have surged as local people seek out trusted and reliable news sources to keep them properly informed.
“But a local paper does much more than this — celebrating local heroes, calling out wrongdoing and of course championing and galvanising communities behind important causes.
“We’re really proud of the readers of local Newsquest titles for raising such an amazing amount of money for local hospitals and hospices.”
Editor of The Basingstoke Gazette and Andover Advertiser Katie French, who co-ordinated the group’s fundraising campaign, said: “This appeal has been a huge success and we are thankful to everyone who has donated for these incredibly worthy causes.
“Local newspapers do so much more than delivering news for the communities they serve and this is a text-book example of local news teams going above and beyond, at a time of crisis.
“The generosity of our readers up and down the country has been second to none. It is heartening and shows how strong the community spirit is across the UK, seeing people part with their cash at this difficult time to support our NHS heroes on the frontline.”
Gordon Sutter, editor of The Southampton Daily Echo, said: “From the start of the coronavirus outbreak the Southern Daily Echo recognised the role that NHS staff at Southampton University Hospitals Trust would play in dealing with the pandemic and the immense pressure they would be under.
“Therefore, as part of the local community we felt we had to play our part to do as much as we could to support those dealing with the pandemic in the city’s hospital.
“As a result, we threw our weight behind the appeal by the Southampton Hospitals Charity and are so proud to have helped them raise such a huge amount of money.
“It just shows how much the people of Southampton care about our local NHS staff and the unbelievable work they have done over the past three months.”
Newsquest titles involved in the campaign included:
Bucks Free Press
Clyde & Forth Press
Isle of Wight County Press
Ludlow and Tenbury Wells Advertiser
Somerset County Gazette
Southampton Daily Echo
The Impartial Reporter
The Leader (Wrexham)
The Wirral Globe
The Gazette (Essex)