AFTER more than 60 years of helping those in our community The Argus Appeal, the charity arm of the newspaper, will now have its funds managed by the Sussex Community Foundation. Today ELSA GILLIO, the driving force behind the appeal, says a fond farewell.

Those of you old enough, cast your mind back. The US put its first satellite into space, the world’s first hovercraft was unveiled, BOAC began regular transatlantic flights and Britain mourned the loss of the Busby Babes in the Munich air disaster. The year – 1958, the first year of the then Evening Argus Christmas Appeal. A charity designed to ensure the Spirit of Christmas was present in the homes of the needy, vulnerable and families on low incomes.

In 2000 the trustees agreed that people need help all year round and not just for Christmas, resulting in a name change to The Argus Appeal. Plans were made to operate 52 weeks a year and raise as much money as possible for those in need.

I remember clearly being so proud and excited at being asked to lead the newly revamped appeal. As an already long serving member of staff, I had worked on the Christmas activities for many years so had a little bit of experience. At the beginning of 2000 we had a balance of £44,797.

We hit the ground running, appointed external to The Argus trustees; Roger French, David Goldin and Sue Addis as well as editors and directors of The Argus. We also recruited a patron, Newsreader Nicholas Owen. So many Gala dinners, Cycle challenges from the South Downs to Paris to Bruges, Golf days, Book shops, Walking to Base Camp, who can forget the wonderful Donatello grottos in The Lanes? carol concerts and of course the annual Santa Bus, started by the Appeal and Brighton & Hove Buses it is now an integral part of the annual festivities in Brighton, Hove, Saltdean and Peacehaven. To date it has raised more than £250,000 for local good causes and continues to bring Christmas to the streets of our community.The Santa Bus is now a finalist in the 2019 UK Bus Awards.

Although many things have changed since 2000, two things that never have are the desperate need of some people suffering the most unimaginable tragedy and the amazing and generous people and businesses willing to support them through the appeal. We have many good friends who share our mantra of needing to help those less fortunate than ourselves. Legal & General for many years joined forces with us to ensure every penny raised was spent on worthy causes. Sussex Freemasons, an amazing and selfless organisation consistently included the appeal when considering which causes should benefit from them. BIMM – Brighton Institute of Modern Music..., And the people, hundreds of kind, generous and willing men and women who took part in our cycle challenges, golf days, bought tickets for events, volunteered to build grottos, decorate buses – the list is endless and so is our gratitude to each of them for making it all happen.

There are always stories of great sadness and suffering and the most important part of the job has been raising the funds to give to the people who need it most. Behind the fun to be had at the gala dinners, cycle challenges and grottos lie the many people who have been supported by the charity and whose lives have been changed for the better because of it.

I recall many people, ordinary, everyday people who have suffered the worst tragedy life can throw at you. The most poignant being the loss or disability of children and young adults. Whether the child is five, fifteen or fifty, it is still your child and brings heartache beyond measure. The appeal took a whole family approach always remembering that one poorly or disabled person affects the entire family and it is sometimes difficult for smaller people to understand the complexities.

I did find it rather ironic when I suffered my own personal tragedies and found myself thinking of those I had met over the years whose strength and stoicism I found truly remarkable. I now find myself thinking of them often and quietly thanking them for indirectly helping me.

As I am now retiring from The Argus after far too many years to disclose, the trustees once again will turn their knowledgeable minds as to how best to utilise the Argus

Appeal’s remaining funds.

It’s been fun ....