UNSUNG heroes across South Lakeland are celebrating after The Westmorland Gazette’s Give Them a Break campaign smashed its ambitious fundraising target of £20,000.

The appeal, launched in September, sought to raise funds to provide those who voluntarily care for a loved-one, relative or friend much needed respite. 
This could be a one-night dinner, a bed and breakfast stay at a Lake District hotel or a day’s activity such as a spa break or an adventure trip.

Having reached £18,000 through donations of cash and cheques from individuals and groups, as well as gifts in kind, it was a grant of £10,000 from the Gannett Foundation that pushed the appeal over the line which truly exceeded the fundraising target.

The Gannett Foundation is the charitable arm of Gannett Co Inc, the parent company of Newsquest Media Group, whose titles include The Westmorland Gazette.

Chairman of the trustees, Simon Westrop, said: “Amid all the political and economic turmoil, real life goes on of course. And it is a privilege for the trustees to be able to do a little something to help where we can.”

Since the campaign started, donations have poured in to help give a boost to unpaid carers in the area.

This includes hoteliers and holiday cottage owners donating a hotel room for free and offering breaks at a spa resort for carers to use as part of their respite.

This week for example Netherwood Hotel and Spa, Grange-over-Sands, has given spa packages worth nearly £120 with a three-course lunch and the Lakeside Hotel and Spa, Newby Bridge, donated an overnight stay for a family, worth £300, which includes a free breakfast and the use of its pool and spa facilities.

Also, Gilpin Hotel and Lake House, in Windermere, has offered spa treatments worth £250 with a free lunch at its restaurant Spice and the Regent Hotel in Ambleside has donated a steak night for two at its establishment.

The campaign was run in conjunction with South Lakeland Carers (SLC), a charity which provides practical and emotional support and advice to around 1,250 unpaid carers across the area.

Mike Seaton, chief executive of SLC, said it was ‘amazing’ to see how people and local businesses rose to the challenge and demonstrated their extreme generosity.

He said: “We would like to say a huge thank you to all who have donated and helped, to the carers who shared their stories, to the staff at SLC and to the Gazette for making it possible.”

In addition, Lakeside Taxis and Travel Services, an independent taxi and private hire company in the area, which has been supporting SLC since 2012, has give the campaign an almighty boost with a generous donation.

Marketing and Business Development Manager Andy Jordan said on average to hire an executive vehicle for a short journey within the county would cost between £50 and £75 per journey.

With this in mind The taxi service has gone over and beyond expectations and donated free trips for carers, which would lead to an equivalent monetary value of between £10,000 and £15,000.

The total amount raised for the campaign will help give carers the chance to have some ‘me time.’

Kendal mum Sue Buckley, who cares for her daughter Roberta, 48, who has Down’s Syndrome and Alzheimers, said it was great to find out how successful the appeal was.

“Thank-you to everyone who has been so generous and supported the appeal,” she said. “Roberta’s needs have increased a great deal since we were interviewed and she wakes needing attention every night. A night away and a chance to relax is a lifeline for me.”

Andrew Thomas, editor of the Gazette, said achieving the target was the ‘perfect’ way to round off this year.

“I have been blown away by the generosity of our readers from cash to gifts in kind. I would like to thank each and every person who donated to the campaign,” he said.

“Carers play a vital unpaid role looking after ill or disabled relatives. We feel it is important that they can be given respite to help re-charge their batteries.”