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Thousands of votes cast as the winners of The P&J’s 275 Community Fund are revealed

The five charity partners will receive a minimum of £10,000 with The P&J set to fundraise throughout 2024 to increase the total.

Readers have been busy voting for The P&J's charity partners since the polls opened this month.
Readers have been busy voting for The P&J's charity partners since the polls opened this month.

More than 20,000 votes were cast and today the north and north-east charities set to benefit from The P&J’s 275 Community Fund can be revealed.

Friends of Anchor, Bon Accord Heritage (Save Bon Accord Baths), Munlochy Animal Aid and Friendly Access (SurfABLE Scotland) have been chosen by our readers to join Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance (SCAA) as P&J charity partners 2024.

The P&J’s 275 Community Fund was launched to help celebrate The Press and Journal’s 275th anniversary, with the aim of supporting the charities transforming our communities.

A public vote this month showcased hundreds of charities nominated to benefit from the fund. Readers were then able to choose and vote for up to four charities, and the ones with the most votes in each category would be named charity partners alongside SCAA.

Each winning charity partner will receive £10,000 – but that’s only the beginning as The P&J will fundraise throughout next year, raising even more donations for the fund. The final total raised will be shared equally between the charities.

Editor of The Press and Journal Craig Walker said he is delighted The P&J can provide support to five outstanding charities.

He said: “It’s great to finally know the names of the charities which will be supported by The P&J 275 Community Fund over the course of next year.

“We launched The P&J 275 Community Fund because we wanted to recognise the hard work of charities who tirelessly give their all to transform the communities of the north and north-east, making them better places to live, work and enjoy for us all.

Press and Journal editor Craig Walker

“To be able to give something back to each of these five charities through the 275 Community Fund is incredible, and it’s such a special way to mark our 275th anniversary year.

“It’s also fantastic that we were able to shine a light on more than 100 charities just by launching the reader vote.

“I want to thank everyone who voted across each of the four categories. I have been blown away by the thousands of votes cast over just two short weeks.

“It just goes to show that our communities have very big hearts.”

Mr Walker added: “We have some really exciting events lined up across the north and north-east for next year, which will help to raise even more than the initial £10,000 for the charities.

“I encourage our readers to keep their eyes peeled for some really exciting announcements.”

P&J charity partner Friends of Anchor invests in medical equipment and pioneering research to push the boundaries in how we diagnose, treat and care for people, while  pledging to promote clinical excellence including funded development programmes for NHS clinical staff to enhance knowledge and expertise.

Chief executive Sarah-Jane Hogg said she felt overwhelmed to learn Friends of Anchor, which supports cancer and haematology patients in Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Moray, Orkney and Shetland, had won the reader vote.

She said: “I must admit it’s a little bit overwhelming – there are so many amazing causes in the north-east.

Sarah-Jane Hogg is delighted Friends of Anchor has been named a P&J charity partner.

“I want to applaud you guys at The P&J for thinking of this idea because it’s just put all of us in the spotlight.

“And thank you to all of our voters. This is just amazing. All of those who know Friends of Anchor will know how this funding is going to make an impact locally.”

Friends of Anchor will dedicate donations from the 275 Community Fund towards a number of initiatives such as a wellbeing therapy programme, which gives patients the opportunity to have treats like getting their nails done, care packs, a daily treat trolley and more.

P&J charity partner Munlochy Animal Aid on the Black Isle is dedicated to caring for a wide range of animals.

Its mission is to provide shelter and veterinary care to animals in need, especially when their owners are unable to care for them temporarily due to hospitalisation, incarceration, homelessness, or other crises.

The charity aims to use funding to develop its facilities further and commit to the unwavering support of animal welfare.

Iona Nicol founded the charity with her late mother Margaret MacDonald with support from family and volunteers – Munlochy Animal Aid began in a modest shed.

Centre manager Iona Nicol said: “I just can’t believe it. To win is fantastic… I’m overwhelmed. Wow.

“I’m so proud Munlochy has achieved this and I’m so grateful to all the people that voted for us.

“I’m also very grateful to The P&J for this amazing amount.

“We have several projects in mind at the moment and the funding is such a big help. It’s going to go a long way in helping to start things off.

“We’re looking at the building of a new barn which has been needed for a very long time. I will be telling everyone about this – I’m just so overjoyed.”

Bon Accord Heritage is responsible for the Save Bon Accord Baths project, which is working towards the restoration and reopening of the historic category B-listed Art Deco baths on Aberdeen’s Justice Mill Lane.

Bon Accord Baths is one of the few remaining swimming pools of its type in the country, and Bon Accord Heritage was formed in response to its closure.

Save Bon Accord Baths chairman Bruce Strachan said he was delighted to receive support from the 275 Community Fund. He said: “We entered this knowing that the people of Aberdeen loved the project, but just scanning down the list of other charities there in the category, we could see there were so many other worthy causes.

“I’m delighted that people voted for us – it’s been our vision for years. This funding will certainly help us on our way to achieving that vision.

Bruce Strachan is delighted readers took the time to vote for Save Bon Accord Baths

“There’s a lot of work to be done to keep the building wind and watertight as the weather worsens. This money will certainly go towards that.

“We’re a community-led project so every single penny we take in goes towards funding the project. This is just fantastic, it’s a massive opportunity for us and I’m delighted.”

Winning charity partner SurfABLE Scotland – a project by Friendly Access – took to the waves in 2017 and set out to provide surf therapy access for everyone aged five and above, regardless of disability or condition.

The charity hopes to build its first surf therapy and changing facility at Lossiemouth.
SurfABLE Scotland currently operates as a mobile unit, which has proven successful, but this can also be restricting to those who may require support due to physical impairments, as many beach/surf locations are not equipped to cater to those needs.

A pre-planning application has already been presented to the local authority with plans to submit a full planning application by the end of the year.

Glyn Morris, co-founder of SurfABLE Scotland and chief executive of Friendly Access, said he was thrilled to learn the charity had been voted as a charity partner.

He said: “This is absolutely amazing. There are so many worthy charities out there, it’s very humbling.

“The support of the 275 Community Fund is going to be a massive boost for us. I want to say a thank you to everyone that voted for the SurfABLE Scotland project.

Glyn Morris, chief executive of charity Friendly Access and co-founder of the charity’s project SurfABLE Scotland.<br />Picture by Jason Hedges

“We’ve got so much more coming in terms of trying to build our facility which will allow people to change with dignity.”

Mr Morris added: “We have had a huge amount of support from The P&J in the past – I have to name reporter Sean McAngus.

In terms of coverage it’s been brilliant.

SurfABLE Scotland plan to use funds from the 275 Community Fund to combat running costs and increase its range of adaptive equipment, buying beach wheelchairs and a Hippocampe beach chair.

The P&J’s fifth charity partner which will be supported by the 275 Community Fund is Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance (SCAA).

SCAA saves and improves lives across Scotland – including the north and north-east – every day.

A SCAA helicopter can be airborne within five minutes of receiving an emergency call and can reach 90% of Scotland’s population within 25 minutes.

Working in partnership with the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS), SCAA is an integral part of Scotland’s frontline emergency response network, responding to trauma incidents and medical emergencies across the country, covering an area of more than 30,000 square miles.

Ross Martin of SCAA is thrilled the charity is one of the 275 charity partners

Ross Martin of SCAA said the charity is delighted The Press and Journal is offering its support as part of the 275 Community Fund, he said: “As Scotland’s only charity funded air ambulance service, SCAA relies entirely on the generosity of the people and businesses of Scotland.

“We are delighted to have been chosen as one of the charities to benefit from The P&J 275 Community Fund and it’s great to see the other charities now being announced.

“We are proud to be chosen alongside some great causes that serve the people of the north and north-east of Scotland.

“We can’t wait to kick off a year of fundraising with The P&J 275 Charity Gala in February.”

Reader votes came flooding in by the thousands when the 275 Community Fund polls were opened earlier this month, with 20,122 votes being cast in total across the four categories.

The four categories included Aberdeen/Aberdeenshire large, Aberdeen/Aberdeenshire small to medium, Highlands, Islands and Moray large and Highlands, Islands and Moray small to medium.

Friends of Anchor came out on top in the Aberdeen/Aberdeenshire large category, while Bon Accord Heritage (Save Bon Accord Baths) won the most votes in Aberdeen/Aberdeenshire small to medium.

In the Highlands, Islands and Moray large category, Munlochy Animal Aid scooped the win, and Friendly Access (SurfABLE Scotland) achieved the highest number of votes in the Highlands, Islands and Moray small to medium category.

The P&J 275 Charity Gala is the first fundraising event which will add funds to the 275 Community Fund.

The gala will take place at P&J Live on February 2 next year. A number of additional events are yet to be announced.

Details on how readers can donate to The P&J’s 275 Community Fund will be published in December.