Sunderland charity plans big 40th birthday celebration

BIG ANNIVERSARY: Members of the Sunderland Branch of Save the Children who are getting ready to mark their 40th anniversary ' Elizabeth Pearson, Judith Rudd and Jenni Little, front Irene Wilkinson and Muriel Staddon.
BIG ANNIVERSARY: Members of the Sunderland Branch of Save the Children who are getting ready to mark their 40th anniversary ' Elizabeth Pearson, Judith Rudd and Jenni Little, front Irene Wilkinson and Muriel Staddon.
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A BIG fun day is being planned to mark the 40th anniversary of a city charity.

The Sunderland branch of Save the Children was originally set up by a group of friends inspired by the international aid work of Wearside woman Liz Lamb.

I didn’t just want to send a cheque off to Save the Children, but to do something more than that.

Irene Wilkinson

Now, four decades on the branch has raised in excess of £120,000 for Save the Children which provides vital help and aid for children both internationally and in Britain.

And, it is hoping as many people as possible will join them for a celebration and fund-raising day later this month.

Irene Wilkinson, 70, said: “I was reading all the news about Liz travelling with 100 orphans out of Vietnam and I decided I wanted to do something to help.

“I didn’t just want to send a cheque off to Save the Children, but to do something more than that.”

Irene got in touch with fellow school teacher, Muriel Staddon, and between the pair of them, they recruited members and formed the branch, which at the time was the only one in the region.

She said: “It really took off and on the first committee we had 23 members.”

The group now has eight members, but boasts a small army of volunteers who help them run numerous events.

Fellow member, Judith Rudd, who joined the branch 39 years ago, said: “The people who help us are fantastic, we really couldn’t do it without them.”

Irene said the group has changed with the times and is pleased to have people of all ages involved with the work.

She said: “We are celebrating our first 40 years and looking ahead to another 40.”

The charity day will be held on Saturday, March 21, from 11am to 2pm in Bede Tower, Bethany City Church, Ryhope Road.

As well as dozens of craft stalls and demonstrations, there will be food outlets and lots of activities for children including a soft play area, circus skills entertainers and balloon animal makers.

Women from the Bangladeshi Community Centre will also be going along to do henna hand painting and the Sunderland Save the Children branch will be creating an exhibition of the past 40 years.

Anyone interested in having a stall at the event, at a cost of £10, or would like to become involved with the group, should contact Irene on 0774814988.