Looking back on a year of fundraising at Rockinghorse

Our Superhero iDrop heroes

Despite the year starting in lockdown, Rockinghorse has managed to fund 50 projects to support children across Sussex since January.

After the upheaval we all experienced in 2020, we were hopeful that 2021 would see the world getting back to normal. But unfortunately, January started off in lockdown so we weren’t sure exactly how the rest of the year would pan out.

However, an amazing grant of £120,000 from the Camelia Botnar Foundation at the start of the year kicked off a great year that saw the team at Rockinghorse HQ and all our supporters working hard to make 2021 a success.

Support through the community

We rely on support from the local Sussex community, whether that’s businesses, community groups or individuals, and throughout the year they didn’t let us down.

Josh Braid during his South Downs Way tyre pull

Throughout the year we had hundreds of fundraisers organising and taking part in individual events and challenges. This included marathons, half marathons, virtual cycles, head shaves and endurance challenges like Josh Braid, who pulled a tyre along 50 miles of the South Downs Way and Dan Cassidy who ran four miles every four hours over 48 hours. Between them they raised over £5,500.

We also teamed up with More Radio for their Early Morning Mission campaign that saw breakfast presenter Jack ‘the lad’ Hayes walk the South Downs Way. Despite the wind and rain, Jack managed to complete his mission and raise £10,000.

The Bears Big Bash, the popular banger racing team, did their eighth charity meeting at Arlington Raceway in Eastbourne in August, raising over £23,000 and in May the boxer Chris Eubank Jnr donated £10,000 to Rockinghorse.

The return of events

Thankfully as lockdown eased we were able to organise some face-to-face fundraising events, something they had been missing over the previous year.

In July we welcomed 27 superheroes to the British Airways i360 on Hove seafront to drop the 450ft to the ground, raising an amazing £16,000. Then in September it was a golf day at Mid Sussex Golf Club with golfers enjoying the 18-hole course and raising over £8,000. And November saw the welcome return of the famous Rockinghorse quiz night, this time held on Brighton Palace Pier, which raised £6,000.

But of course, Rockinghorse weren’t the only ones organising fundraising events. We were the recipients of a range of other events held by their supporters, including golf days organised by Search Seven, Morgan Sindall and Jamie Westley, and the wonderful Best of British event with guest speaker John Barnes in September.

Downs View sensory room

The Projects funded

Thanks to all this amazing support, we have been able to fund a wide range of services and equipment this year.

We have provided ongoing funding for a specialist oncology psychologist to support young cancer patients, the hippotherapy project at Chailey Heritage Foundation in Lewes, and the activity programme at Chalkhill Child and Adolescent Mental Health Unit in Haywards Heath.

We also supported Downs View school in Woodingdean to fund a wonderful new sensory room, Drove Road respite and residential service now has a wonderful new trampoline to enjoy and children living with long-term medical conditions benefitted from weekly art therapy sessions in Brighton.

A new CEO

In November, Rockinghorse welcomed a new CEO after they said farewell to Ryan Heal after eight successful years at the helm.

Our new CEO, Donna Holland, began in November after working in the charity sector for the last 20 years, bringing a wealth of knowledge and experience to the role.

Rockinghorse CEO Donna Holland

Donna is really looking forward to taking Rockinghorse into its 55th year and is enjoying the new challenge: “As someone who lives and works in Sussex, I’ve seen first-hand the impact the charity has and I’m really looking forward to continuing their vital work.”

And whilst Donna has only been in her role for a few weeks, she already feels part of the team: “It’s been great to make a start and get to know all the work that happens behind the scenes at Rockinghorse. We have some big plans for the next year and we’re excited to develop our support so that we are really making a difference to the lives of children and young people and their families in our community.”

Thank you

Donna has been impressed at the level of fundraising that Rockinghorse has achieved despite the difficult start to the year: “The world has been an unpredictable place over the last couple of years, but the support that we have continued to receive has been amazing. None of these amazing projects would have happened without the help of hundreds of people across Sussex.

“What the local community has done for Rockinghorse, despite the difficulties that we have all experienced, has meant that doctors, nurses, support staff and project organisers have been able to provide babies, children and young people with the support they need to thrive, be happy and enjoy being children.

“So, we would like to take this opportunity to thank all the businesses and community groups, challenge participants and individuals who have taken so much of their time and effort to help support us this year.”

And finally

We wanted to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to every single person who dedicated their time, money and effort in helping us throughout 2021. We simply wouldn’t be here without you and we are so grateful for everything you do to support us.

See you next year!

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