FENLAND: Happy days indeed as we start the hand over of Cash Giveaway awards- and more may follow

WE had a pot of gold to share and groups throughout the Fens have so far benefited to the tune of �28,000 in cash grants of between �250 and �1,000. On Friday representatives of groups and organisations were presented with their cheques by Cambs Times and

WE had a pot of gold to share and groups throughout the Fens have so far benefited to the tune of �28,000 in cash grants of between �250 and �1,000.

On Friday representatives of groups and organisations were presented with their cheques by Cambs Times and Wisbech Standard Editor John Elworthy.

The great cash giveaway was announced in January after this newspaper teamed up with the Cambridgeshire Community Foundation to allocate government money earmarked to help groups in the community.

We asked readers to bid for the cash for specific community projects which could be anything from buying a new cooker for a village hall to providing a day out for disadvantaged youngsters or pensioners. At the end of the bidding process 27 groups were give the good news that they had been successful.

Marion Branch, grants officer from the Cambridgeshire Community Foundation said: "There are hundreds of worthwhile voluntary and community groups hard at work in Fenland and we are delighted that the Cambs Times/Wisbech Standard has put us in contact with many of them."

Editor John Elworthy said: "I am thrilled that we have been able to help so many worthwhile groups and organisations and the wonderful work they do in our community.

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"The cash giveaway has provided a shining light for many of the groups in these present difficult economic times."

Mr Elworthy said other applications were still being processed and the final amount could easily top �30,000.

"I hope those who applied but did not get a grant will not be too disappopinted," he said. "There was strict criteria for the awards and the processing is still on going for those who may not yet have heard."

He added: "There's a chance it could all happen again next year- and that would be amazing."

Successful Bidders

Benwick Forget-Me-Not Club which benefits the elderly in the village, �500 to pay for a summer coach outing

March Amateur Boxing Club, �1,000 for coach's travelling expenses

Tydd St Giles Luncheon Club, �1,000 for new dishwasher

Benwick Village Hall Committee, �715 for new cooker, under-counter fridge and microwave oven for village hall kitchen

Chatteris Cricket Club, �500 for refurbishing practice net facilities

Estover Playing Field Association, �775.00 for new goal posts

March Athletic Club, �1,000 to promote junior athletics by training coaches

Chatteris Music Society, �1,000 to invite The Hatstand Opera Company to perform in Chatteris Parish Church on May 9;

Benwick Scout Group, �900 to pay for Scout Association training of adult leaders to national Scout Association standards

March Summer Festival Committee, �1,000 towards the cost of running summer music event;

Friday Bridge Senior Citizens Club, �250 to buy a microphone and speakers for meetings

Chatterbox Parent and Toddler Group, �760 for new play equipment

March Brass 2000, �5,000 for new instruments

Chatteris St Peter's Tennis Club, �1,500 for new scarifier for grass tennis courts

The March Society, �500 for new display boards and publicity materials

March & District Branch of the Parkinson's Disease Society, �1,000 to buy a laptop and projector for speakers and to upgrade existing computer

Parson Drove Street Pride Group, �1,000 to enhance the gateways into the village by installing new signs and planting shrubs

Manea Connect Group, �500 to expand and develop ideas for connecting the people of Manea; Wisbech St Mary Youth Club, �899 to buy a digital projector

Parson Drove Football Club, �1,000 towards building a modest grandstand and towards pitch hire

Wisbech in Bloom, �914 towards new equipment

Wisbech Acorns, �1,000 to buy tracksuits, jackets and hats for young players

Robert Hall Centre, �1,000 towards the cost of window repairs

The Wisbech Players, �250 for new makeup and equipment to apply it

The March and Chatteris Talking Newspaper for the Blind, �3,000, for running costs of hire of studio and modernisation programme

Benwick Residents Association, �600 to further improve this year's Dickensian Market

Elm Friendship Club, �500 for room hire and speakers.

Several applications from Outwell, Upwell and Walpole highway were passed on to be considered for grants being awarded in Norfolk.

What a difference a grant makes

Money handed over on Friday will make a huge amount of difference to the recipients and we asked some of them to describe the impact the grant will have on their groups or organisations.

"We were thrilled and overwhelmed by it," said Katherine Childs the vice-chairman and publicity officer of Chatteris Music Society. The society will be using its �1,000 grant to bring the Hatstand Opera Company to Chatteris for a performance in the parish church.

The money has enabled the society to reduce the price of tickets from �10 to �6 and offer concessions to Under 16s and those in care homes and their carers.

The performance called 'Lights, Camera, Action' will have wide ranging appeal featuring music from the shows, films and light opera.

Mrs Childs said: "We can now present this with confidence and we have been able to cut the price of tickets. We are truly delighted."

The Robert Hall Centre in Wisbech provides a great meeting place for the 3rd Wisbech Scouts and Guides but the church-like windows need costly repairs and replacements.

Secretary of the management committee Sheila Otter said: "It is a Grade Two listed building and the windows are like church windows. The �1,000 will go towards repairs on window number five.

"My first response was 'Oh, Wow' because I usually expect a letter saying the opposite. We were just really pleased and delighted. We do fundraising ourselves but it is such a slow process."

Peter Jackman of March Athletic Club knows the importance of encouraging youngsters in sport and its �1,000 will be used for junior coaching. He said: "There is the possibility of one or two ex-March members performing at the 2012 Olympics. None of these kids will be ready by then but we want to bite the bullet while there is interest and anticipation."

But coaching by suitably qualified people does not come cheap and the �1,000 will go a long way to getting it off the ground."

Tydd St Giles Luncheon Club provides a valuable service to over 60s in the village and beyond. When it comes to washing dishes after the fortnightly meals those in charge have been 'making do' with a glass washer.

Now thanks to the �1,000 grant the club is able to buy a dishwasher which will help speed up the clearing up process.

Chairman/secretary Ann Balls said: "It will be a really big help, especially when we have our big Christmas lunch. I was so excited to learn that we had got the money."

Mrs Balls said applying for the grant had also led to help from the Cambridgeshire Community Foundation to set up a constitution.

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