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"Dogged persistence" pays off in We Care victory

The Eastern Daily Press can finally make a bid for lottery funding for its We Care appeal after a long-running battle for a change in the law ended in victory.

For the past two-and-a-half years a team of Norfolk lords, MPs and volunteers, together with the Eastern Daily Press, have battled to overturn an anomaly in lottery law that blocked grants to permanent endowment trusts, like the paper’s We Care appeal.

The campaigning group’s Private Member’s Bill passed unscathed through its final stage in the House of Lords before reaching the statute books.

Eastern Daily Press editor Peter Franzen said: “Who said persistence doesn’t pay off?

“This may have seemed a technical issue, but we felt it was an injustice to millions of carers across the UK and was worth fighting for.

“To achieve such a change in the law is claimed as a unique achievement by a regional newspaper (always dangerous!) but it also an example of dogged persistence by journalists in righting what we regarded as a serious wrong.

“It took two-and-a-half years of work, including the preparation of detailed legal dossiers by deputy editor James Ruddy and tough talks with no fewer than three senior ministers.

“We were scuppered by the general election initially, then had to restart our whole process from scratch. But we were supported by every MP in our region as well as several peers and countless volunteer experts.

“It was cross-party teamwork and a fascinating insight into the workings of government and the parliamentary maze!”

The appeal, which raises money to support unpaid carers in Norfolk, was launched in October 1998 with an ambitious £1m target.

Since then £765,000 has been raised, but it has been unable to apply for any help from the lottery – until now.

And if a lottery bid was successful, it would be a vital step for the appeal which has so far paid out £58,600 – from the interest on its permanent capital fund – to the county’s hard-pressed carers.

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