By Roz Scott Independent Councillor Whinney, the great, great grandson of Mr Charles Dickens hosted a theatrical evening in the Old Council Chamber in Reigate Town Hall. The event was held on Thursday November 20 supported by the Mayor of Reigate and Banstead. Councillor David Pay, the Mayor of Reigate & Banstead said: “It was a fantastic evening and I’m thrilled that we raised this sum of money for the Mayor’s Trust Fund.” A full house of 70 guests raised £2,400. The Mayor’s fund was established 44 years ago to provide for people with mental illnesses, other difficulties or homeless people through grants to the Salvation Army. Independent Councillor Whinney, Member for Reigate Central, said: “I was very pleased with the way the event went.” Mr Dickens wrote about his visit to the Philanthropic Farm in Red Hill in his weekly journal on 11th September 1952. Over a hundred “criminal children” were sent for rehabilitation by the Philanthropic Society to avoid being sent abroad as young offenders. Mr Dickens saw that the farm was open and there were workshops to teach the boys how to become a blacksmith among other skills. Other children were released early (on the equivalent of parole) if they agreed to go to the Philanthropic Farm, Dickens wrote. Gary Andrews of The Archway Theatre Company of Horley presented the ‘Christmas Carol’ alongside Charles Dickens’ great grandson during the evening of theatre which focused on Charles Dickens as a social reformer. The Mayor’s Trust Fund was set up in 1970 and continues Mr Dickens’ tradition of compassion and humanity. It provides for residents in “challenging circumstances” whose needs are not met adequately by other special funds. Examples include a donation to a charity helping support people with mental illness, providing festive, gift vouchers or hampers to families in need and support for the provision of Christmas lunch for the homeless through grants to the Salvation Army.

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