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Newspaper smashes £1m target for children’s ward

A newspaper’s ambitious fundraising campaign to help develop a world-class children’s ward at its local hospital has smashed its £1m target six months early.

The twice-weekly Inverness Courier launched its fundraising drive last year to support the city’s Raigmore Hospital in its plans to transform facilities for children.

The appeal was launched in partnership with Aberdeen-based children’s charity, the ARCHIE Foundation and it was predicted it would take two years to reach the £1m target.

But after receiving overwhelming support from readers, businesses and organisations, the sum has been reached sooner than expected, prompting the paper the now continue the appeal and raise a further £1m for the cause.Work will now start next spring to create a more child-centred ward for children and their families, which will feature better play facilities, beds to allow parents to sleep alongside their sick child and a purpose-built education area.

Editor Robert Taylor said support for the scheme had ranged from pennies collected by children to donations of £150,000 from large national organisations.

He said: “Although the big donations are important, the small contributions from individuals and groups have been crucial in helping us reach this target.

“The response to the appeal has astounded us and is a credit to the whole of the Highlands. Every day brought news of more coffee mornings, sponsored runs and fashion shows.

“The appeal also underscores the Courier’s reputation as a campaigning newspaper which fights for the local community. In the past 12 months we have help secure the region’s direct rail link to London, highlighted the startling health gap between rich and poor parts of Inverness and now helped create a top class facility for sick children.”

The Courier has now pledged to support a second £1m fundraising campaign to extend the ward to enable most children’s services to be delivered within a self-contained unit.