Group honoured by charities after £45K staff donation

Staff at a North East firm have outdone themselves by raising more than £45,000 in 12 months for three charities in the region.

Great Annual Savings Group (GAS) employees have raised funds for their three chosen charities through a series of activities, events and payroll giving.

Two of the charities have honoured the business with awards. Every one of GAS’ 300 staff gives money out of their wages each month to donate annually and the business holds a competition to determine its annual “charity champion”.

The £45,165 donation was split equally between Sunderland’s animal rescue charity Animal Krackers; Chester le Street’s Heel and Toe Children’s Charity; and the County Durham Foodbank. Fundraising activities included mud runs; half-marathons; sky dives; fire walks; three peaks challenges; hikes; spinathons; and other physical challenges. The cash amount was supplemented by the Group providing paid volunteer days for staff, who were afforded the opportunity to visit the charities during the week to lend a helping hand.

Brad Groves, Chief Executive of GAS, said: “The community footprint of GAS as a business is now substantial. We support many North East sporting teams, such as Spennymoor Town FC, and cultural events, such as Hardwick Live and Lumiere. But our staff have raised this huge sum themselves through willpower and belief in the causes these charities support.

“We’re a commercial organisation, but our growth means we’ve now created more than 300 jobs, provided more than £100,000 in sponsorships and donated more than £70,000 in two years to North East charities. “We’re about to move into our exciting new headquarters and create even more jobs. I look forward to how much our staff raise next year.”

Judith Bennison, Group HR Director, said: “Our staff have blown us away again. For 100 per cent of them to give every month of the year and then go beyond this off their own backs to do extra is heart-warming for us and the charities.

“The competition internally is growing and we expect it to increase in our next financial year, which started in July. The charities were originally chosen by a staff vote and everyone immediately got behind the drive and ‘gave-as-they-earned’ each month.”

The cheques for the total amounts were presented to representatives of the three charities at the company’s annual staff conference on Friday July 19 in front of the entire GAS workforce.

Doug Long, Chief Executive of Heel and Toe Children’s Charity, said: “The sum we received from GAS translates into a year of therapy for five children, which is around 750 hours. This makes a massive difference to their health and wellbeing.

“We’d like to name one of our therapy rooms after Great Annual Savings so everyone visiting and receiving therapy understand the role the company played.”

Glenn Jones, Chairman of County Durham Foodbank, said: “We’re pleased to announce GAS as the winner of The Winskill Award for outstanding corporate volunteering and support.

“I’m not sure whether the staff at GAS are fully aware of the impact that they are having on the lives of people who are coming to us in crisis. Intervention by the Foodbank has helped keep families together, prevented hunger and alleviated desperation.

“I cannot find the words to thank GAS enough for what they all do.”

Anne Davies, Board Member at Animal Krackers, said: “We’re looking forward to sharing another year with all the staff at GAS, many of whom we’ve met through volunteering days.

“People like them brighten the world for the rest of us. Thank you GAS.”