DESPITE the enormous challenges of the past year, Rockinghorse has managed to raise an incredible £600,000 since April 2020.
Over the last year, the world has changed beyond measure. When 2020 started, no one could have seen the impact that the coronavirus pandemic would have across every aspect of our society, from schools to retail, businesses to travel, and of course, the charity sector.
And Rockinghorse was no exception. In March 2020, they were suddenly faced with the prospect of all their usual charity events being cancelled, including their single biggest fundraiser of the year, the Rockinghorse Ball.
There was a real possibility that 2020 would be the year that Rockinghorse closed its doors. The team had to adapt incredibly quickly to ensure they were able to continue supporting vulnerable children throughout the county, but nothing was certain, and no one really knew how the year would pan out.
Luckily, thanks to careful financial management during the previous few years, the small staff team at the charity weren’t furloughed and continued to work throughout the year. They understood that while the landscape of ‘business as usual’ was shifting dramatically, babies and children were still getting sick, and they wanted to honour their commitment to support them in any way they could.
As Rhian Walsh, Finance and Operational Director at Rockinghorse, explains:
“We realised immediately that we had to think fast and change the way we worked almost overnight. This meant engaging our supporters quickly to help them understand that we needed their support more than ever.
“We developed our ‘Rockinghorse Hero’ campaign and launched it within a week, which really helped galvanise support and kick-start a new world of virtual fundraising.”
This initial campaign ended up raising over £95,000, but this was just the start. By thinking differently, really linking in with the local community and making sure their website and social media platforms engaged the public, they found more and more people were contacting them to help.
From individuals to businesses, children to grandparents, they were overwhelmed with the support they received.
Young people put their time and effort into raising money for their peers with netball challenges, sponsored cycles and marathons, and even running a charity Etsy shop. Runners who missed out on the usual marathon season took to the streets to run virtual races and fundraise. And online gamer Matt Cullimore undertook two 24-hour live stream gaming sessions to raise over £6,000.
Local businesses were also a vital part of fundraising throughout the year.
And throughout the year, the Trust Fundraising Manager at Rockinghorse applied to 115 different trusts, resulting in being awarded over £180,000 in grants during the year, including £120,000 from The Camelia Botnar Foundation in Horsham.
This all meant that far from being unable to offer much support, Rockinghorse could not only continue to fund vital equipment and services but also offer more support related to the year’s events.
They funded a range of equipment and projects in response to the impact of the virus: a portable lung function machine to help children with a range of lung conditions, camp beds for parents to be able to stay overnight with their children while they are in hospital, and an innovative research project looking into how COVID-19 is transmitted by young people.
In addition, they also funded a range of vital medical equipment, including 12 oxygen saturation monitors to monitor children after operations and those with respiratory conditions, a simulation manikin to help staff practise their skills and responses in medical emergencies, and sleep study monitors to support babies with sleep-disordered breathing.
Plus, the charity also supported several projects in the community, such as funding a new sensory room for children with severe learning disabilities and autism at Downs View School in Woodingdean and a mobile interactive video floor system, known as a magic carpet, for Hazel Court School in Eastbourne, offering games and stimulation to young people with severe complex needs and disabilities.
This means that one of the most beloved Sussex charities has been able to support around 12,000 children during the last year. Working in partnership with local hospitals, respite centres and specialist services, their funding has made a difference to hundreds of children, often making their experience of visiting the hospital more pleasant and much less scary.
And all this during a pandemic that could have stopped their operation entirely.
As Rhian puts it:
“We’re really looking forward to getting back to normality as the year goes on, but we’re so proud to have reached this amazing fundraising total during an incredibly challenges 12 months. But the bottom line is, without the amazing support of everyone throughout Sussex who has fundraised for us, we simply wouldn’t be here.
“So, we want to thank all our amazing supporters for everything they have done for us and here’s looking forward to the rest of 2021!”
For more information about Rockinghorse or to make a donation, please visit their website at: www.rockinghorse.org.uk or call them on 01273 330044.