CELEBRATIONS marked a much-loved Havant charity’s ruby anniversary.
Since 1977, Off the Record has offered free and confidential counselling to youngsters going through hard times.
As it turned 40 yesterday, staff and friends of the cause united for a party at its Purbrook Way drop-in centre.
Sue Gillard – the service’s general manager – was among those enjoying the festivities.
She said: ‘It’s amazing to know the charity has run this long and has managed to survive previous times of funding crisis.
‘It is clear there is a need for the service we provide. Loads of young people have really supportive families, but it can be difficult to speak to them when they are struggling with issues like bullying, body image or things at school.
‘Our volunteer counsellors are hugely experienced with being able to work with these young people and it is important they are given an outlet to discuss their problems.’
Off the Record’s birthday celebrations were marked by live music, mulled wine and a cake-cutting ceremony led by the Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire, Nigel Atkinson.
He said: ‘I visited Off the Record in 2011 and presented the charity with a Queen’s Award. It was clear through meeting patrons and volunteers back then how needed its services are and it is still very clear today.
‘It’s a pleasure to be welcomed back and I offer them my congratulations for turning 40. I wish Off the Record all the very best for the future.’
As the charity celebrates its 40th birthday, its workers are encouraging local people to hold a fundraising activity of their choice to raise and donate £40, in a bid to secure its future.
Alternatively, generous residents can pledge £3.33 a month to Off the Record, for 12 months, to raise the equivalent cash.
The organisation’s community fundraising officer, Corinne Wincott, said: ‘Over the years Off the Record has had fantastic support from local people and businesses in the area – we really hope that can continue.
‘Securing funding is a crucial part of what we have to do to stay alive and hopefully the community can support us and make sure we’re able to provide our services long into the future.’
To make a donation to Off the Record, you can text OTRH11 – followed by your desired donation in pounds – to 70070. You can also become a volunteer or donate at otr-south.org.uk.