Newry Chamber of Commerce and Trade last night (Thursday 3rd December) hosted more than 700 patrons at the 16th Annual Christmas Charity Dinner in the Canal Court Hotel in Newry. After breaking the £1 million fundraising target for local charities last year in its fifteenth year, people were equally generous this year with more than £77,500 raised for local causes. This brings the total for the past 16 years to £1,129,458.
The annual total is a combination of more than £10,000 raised through the annual Santa Run down Hill Street in the City which attracted more than 150 ‘Santas’ this year; the sum of the value of the toys brought by guests for the huge toy mountain which will be distributed to local families through St Vincent de Paul and the Salvation Army this Christmas; ticket sales, donations and a raffle on the night.
Amongst the special guests were singer Brian Kennedy, TV and radio personality Gerry Kelly, politicians, clergy and dignitaries from across the island. The guests of honour were three very special local school children and their families who were nominated by their schools to receive dream holidays. Daisy McCaul, Amy Gannon and Lucy Parke were presented with travel vouchers for a family holiday of their choice by committee members.
Speaking on behalf of the organising committee Michael McKeown, President of Newry Chamber of Commerce and Trade said, ‘Newry Chamber of Commerce & Trade is very proud of the generosity of its members. For the past 16 years businesses and individuals from across the greater Newry area have embraced the Christmas Charity Dinner to help families have a better Christmas and to support organisations/charities doing tremendous work in our communities.’
Michael also thanked the management and staff of the Canal Court Hotel as well as the organising committee of Emma Turley, Dr Gerard O’Hare, Deborah Loughran, Declan McChesney, Jack Murphy, Orla Jackson, Gemma Murphy, Natasha Daryaie and Tony McKeown.
During the event the committee paid tribute to Feargal McCormick, PKFFPM and his team who stepped down this year as co-ordinators of the event. Feargal was presented with a token of appreciation for his work during the past 15 years.
All of the proceeds from the event were presented on the night to the beneficiary charities. This year they included Rathore School, Daisy Hill Children’s Ward, Head Injury Support, Southern Area Hospice Services, The Salvation Army, St Vincent De Paul, Cancer Focus, Home Start, Happy Faces, PIPS, Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust, Autism Families, Fr Peter McVerry Trust, Children’s Lapland Trust and the Irish Pilgrimage Trust.