A regional daily’s campaign to help devastated flood victims – personally backed by Prime Minister David Cameron on its launch day – has raised nearly seven times its original target figure.
The Eastern Daily Press’ Norfolk and Lowestoft Flood Appeal has helped more than 300 people rebuild their lives and businesses after a devastating tidal surge swept through coastal communities.
When the appeal, launched by the Archant Norfolk title and the Norfolk Community Foundation, originally started – organisers were looking to raise £50,000.
Now 10 months an astonishing outpouring of generosity has seen the appeal’s closing total climb to £330,000.
Graham Tuttle, chief executive of the foundation, said: “Our expectations were very modest because we had never tried it before.
“It was a very specific appeal for a specific part of the community. We went in with fairly modest aspirations.
“It quickly became clear that it was resonating with people who could obviously associate themselves with it.”
Mr Tuttle said the appeal’s simplicity meant many flood victims received grants within three days of their initial application.
The appeal has awarded 312 grants worth a total of £287,186, including 168 grants in north Norfolk and 87 in Waveney, plus an additional £30,000 that went to Hemsby.
The remaining funds are either already committed, or being held in reserve for future emergencies in the region.
Its first champion was the Prime Minister himself who hailed the communities in Norfolk and Suffolk for rallying round to help those affected by the tragedy and praised the campaign.
EDP editor, Nigel Pickover, said: “David Cameron came to Norfolk on the day we launched our appeal for Norfolk and Lowestoft flood victims in December.
“He backed our campaign then and was thrilled that six weeks later we had already raised close to £200,000 with half of it already helping victims.”
“We’ve had an amazing reaction, driven by the people of Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, and although the scale of the response initially took us by surprise, it was entirely appropriate as the scale of the damage started to become clear.
“With a great deal of pride, we have reached the end of this appeal after 10 months.”