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Newspaper raises £25,000 in less than a week

A campaign to save the eyesight of a month-old baby has prompted an unprecedented response from readers of a Cheshire weekly.

Yesterday, HoldtheFrontPage highlighted the achievement of the Sunderland Echo in raising £14,000 in a fortnight to buy vital cancer drugs.

But the Warrington Guardian has topped even that by raising £25,000 in less than a week to enable a baby born blind to have vital surgery in the US.

The flood of donations followed a striking front page photo last Thursday showing baby Bobby Brown, who has a rare cornea defect.

The paper asked readers to donate £1 each towards a fund for a £50,000 pioneering artifical cornea transplant in America, which Bobby must have before he is two months old.

The next day, the postman brought 56 cheques totalling £734, and a collection bucket in the Newsquest title’s reception had more than £50 in it. On Monday morning, more than £4,500 came through the post.

A chemical firm donated £1,000, a school £700 and the local masons £1,500.

Web editor Nicola Peate set up a dedicated telephone line, 09013 600 803, that charged callers £1, with 75p going to Bobby’s Fund. On the first day more than 1,000 people called it.

Senior reporter Joanna Lean, who uncovered the story after chasing up details of a non-school uniform fundraiser at Bobby’s brothers’ school, said the response from readers has been phenomenal.

“My phone didn’t stop ringing all day on Thursday and we were inundated with cheques and cash from people passing by the office,” she said.

“There’s also been a great response from businesses, with lots of shops, pubs and social clubs organising fundraisers and putting out collection buckets.

“An accountancy firm donated £5,000 and offered to underwrite the entire £50,000 so that Bobby’s family can definitely take him for his operation no matter how much they raise,” said Joanna.

Child Flight, a charity that pays for sick children’s flights for treatment abroad, has offered to take Bobby and his parents Wes and Cath to New York.

The Abbey, the bank where Bobby’s Fund is kept, has pledged to match cash donations.

A dedicated section has been set up at with photo galleries and a video by Warrington Guardian photographer Dave Gillespie.