Health secretary Matt Hancock has recorded a video message thanking readers of Newquest titles after they raised more than £500,000 for NHS causes during lockdown.
Readers across the publisher’s 160 titles raised in excess of £503,990 for hospital charities and trusts nationwide with its Support Our Guardian Angels campaign.
Now Mr Hancock has issued a video message of thanks which has been published across Newsquest’s digital network today.
One of the group’s titles, the Southern Daily Echo, raised £177,000 for Southampton Hospital Charity, a pioneering centre that has been leading the way for coronavirus research during the pandemic.
The health secretary, pictured, said: “I am incredibly grateful to your readers for their generosity toward the Support Our NHS Guardian Angels campaign during the colossal national effort to tackle coronavirus.
“For nearly 72 years, the NHS has always been there for us, and this global pandemic has been its toughest challenge yet. Across the whole country, the bonds between our heroic NHS staff and local communities have been further strengthened by the support of your readers.”
Newsquest launched the campaign in March as the country headed into lockdown.
Other major efforts by individual newspapers saw readers of The Wirral Globe raise £61,207 for Wirral University Teaching Hospital’s Covid19 support appeal, South Wales Argus readers raise £45,095 for St David’s Hospice Care, while the Impartial Reporter in Northern Ireland collected £10,387 for their Help Our Health Heroes campaign in conjunction with The Fermanagh Trust.
Newsquest chief executive Henry Faure Walker commented: “The essential role that local newspapers play in communities up and down the country has been underlined by the Covid crisis. Audiences to our local websites have surged as local people seek out trusted and reliable news sources to keep them properly informed.
“But a local paper does much more than this – celebrating local heroes, calling out wrongdoing and of course championing and galvanising communities behind important causes. We’re really proud of the readers of local Newsquest titles for raising such an amazing amount of money for local hospitals and hospices.”
Editor of The Basingstoke Gazette and Andover Advertiser Katie French, who co-ordinated the fundraising campaign, added: “This appeal has been a huge success and we are thankful to everyone who has donated for these incredibly worthy causes.
“Local newspapers do so much more than delivering news for the communities they serve and this is a text-book example of local news teams going above and beyond, at a time of crisis.”
Gordon Sutter, editor of The Southern Daily Echo, said: “From the start of the coronavirus outbreak the Southern Daily Echo recognised the role that NHS staff at Southampton University Hospitals Trust would play in dealing with the pandemic and the immense pressure they would be under.
“As a result, we threw our weight behind the appeal by the Southampton Hospitals Charity and are so proud to have helped them raise such a huge amount of money.”
Newsquest titles involved in the campaign included:
Bucks Free Press
Clyde & Forth Press
Isle of Wight County Press
Ludlow and Tenbury Wells Advertiser
Somerset County Gazette
Southern Daily Echo
The Impartial Reporter
The Leader (Wrexham)
The Wirral Globe
The Gazette (Essex)