AFTER 50 years of fervent fundraising the Havant and Waterlooville branch of Save the Children will wind down amid a struggle to recruit new committee members.
Local volunteers have helped raise more than £350,000 for the good cause but will put down their collection buckets when they call it a day on Sunday, March 31.
Dr Sheila Gould has played a key role in the branch for the past five decades and has been its chairwoman for more than 20 years.
The 82-year-old, a former GP, said: ‘It’s sad to have to do this because we’ve all made very good friends, but it is quite difficult to continue organising things with few active people.
‘We have had two people who have died and one has moved down to Southsea – that leaves about five on the committee.
‘When it comes to putting things on we simply don’t have the people who can move the tables and chairs.’
The branch’s disbandment comes in the same year Save the Children celebrates its centenary – marking 100 years of promoting childrens' rights and providing relief and support for young people in developing countries.
Cash raised on a local level plays an important role in bolstering those efforts, and Janet Andrews has been the charity’s treasurer in Havant and Waterlooville for 25 years.
On the decision to wind down, the 72-year-old said: ‘It is sad but things have changed a lot over the years. People donate to charities in different ways now and that has an impact on the roles of committee members.
‘The team in Havant and Waterlooville has been very good and has always been eager to help when things are being organised – it’s never been hard to get the committee to volunteer.’
For the past half a century volunteers in Havant have held street collections, hosted pop-up shops, run Christmas fairs and put on fundraising lunches among other things.
Given the length of time over which those operations have been carried out, Dr Gould said it is likely the branch has raised even more than records show.
She said: ‘We’ve raised about £350,000 but a lot of that is in old money.
‘Even in the 1970s and 1980s money was worth a fraction of what it is now, so in real terms we must have raised nearly £500,000.'
The branch’s final event, a jumble sale at All Saints Church in Denmead, raised £390.
Addressing those who have donated over the years, Dr Gould added: ‘I think all we can say is a very, very big thank you. People have been very generous.’
To learn more about Save the Children – which has branches of volunteers in Portsmouth and Petersfield – visit savethechildren.org.uk