A LIFE-CHANGING good cause is today celebrating being named as the charity partner for next year’s world-renowned Goodwood Festival of Speed.
The Roberts Centre helps thousands of needy people across the Portsmouth area and marks its 30th birthday in 2017.
This is the most amazing news we have ever hadCarole Damper
With car fans from around the globe due to descend on the annual automotive spectacular near Chichester, the Roberts Centre’s boss has issued a rallying cry to Portsmouth to help make the most of the once-in-a-lifetime windfall.
Carole Damper, chief executive of the centre, hopes to raise many thousands of pounds over the four-day festival – which will kick-start a major project to build a new home for the Landport-based charity.
She said: ‘This is an amazing opportunity. It’s one of the biggest events in the southern calendar.
‘It’s just extraordinary, really. So many more people well know about us and know about the work we do.
‘This is the most amazing news we have ever had.’
The move came after the charity wrote to the owner of the Goodwood estate, Lord March, appealing to help make the centre’s 30th anniversary go off with a bang.
After Goodwood agreed, the charity will now benefit in a number of ways.
As well as bucket collections, the Roberts Centre will also take a slice of donations raised at the Saturday night ball and the Goodwood Road And Racing Club ball.
And the charity will have its own stand at the Festival of Speed as well as signs advertising it plastered around the site.
Donations are also expected to come from Goodwood’s ticket page, event sponsors and visitors taking part in off-road activities.
All in all, the event is expected to generate many thousands of pounds for the Roberts Centre – money which could not have come at a better time, said Carole.
‘This is going to mean a lot to us,’ she explained. ‘We have really struggled with money.
‘We have had to cut staff salaries by five per cent a year.
‘It’s been an incredibly difficult time for so many charities.’
The money raised from the festival will help fund a major project to construct a modern facility for the charity, currently based at Crasswell Street.
The first phases of the project is expected to cost around £200,000, with the ambition being to unify the team’s many services under the roof of a single, purpose-built site.
Carole said the project is in the early stages and plans still need to be drawn up.
‘The Roberts Centre is split over two sites,’ she explained. ‘One site has family and children staff, while the other has staff working in settlement and homelessness.
‘To be able to have both these services in one place will be a real improvement, it will make things much easier.’
The Festival of Speed will take place between June 29-July 2 and will see scores of high performance cars old and new hitting the hillclimb course past Goodwood House, driven by a host of famous names from the world of motoorsport.
A Goodwood spokeswoman said: ‘We are delighted to have the Roberts Centre as our Festival of Speed charity for next year.’
The Roberts Centre was founded in 1987 by Reverend Bill Sargent, initially offering help to a handful of people.
It has since grown to supporting some 1,000 families across Portsmouth, Gosport and Havant – about 2,500 people.
It provides a range of services to support families in financial and emotional turmoil.
For more information, see robertscentre.org.uk.
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