Farewell to Bognor charity

Loyal fundraisers are about to stage their final event for a Bognor Regis charity branch.

Bubbles Simmonds and Eileen Catt are among the stalwarts of the town’s branch of Arthritis Research UK bringing its activities to an end.

The last act of 40 years of fundraising will be a concert at St Thomas a’Becket Church in Pagham on December 15.

On Christmas Night will feature Chichester Voices led by Dr Andrew Naylor in a selection of festive tunes as part of its regular fundraising for the branch. Doors will open at 6.45pm for the 7.30pm start.

Branch membership secretary Eileen, 73, said: “I’m sorry to see the branch fold because we have done such good work.

“But I am equally sad nobody has come forward to take it on but I understand why because it is hard work.”

Among the branch’s near 200 members is founder Larry Elliott. It was 40 years ago a group of concerned residents got together to launch the branch.

It has since raised £7,000-10,000 each year. Twice it topped the south east regional fundraising table and one year saw it climb to third most successful branch in the country.

A legacy of £100,000 is one fondly remembered highlight along with a peak membership 400-500 strong. But Bubbles, 77, the branch’s chairman, said arthritis was too often overlooked.

“People don’t die from it and it does not tug at the heartstrings but it does take the quality of their life away,” she said.

Eileen said: “It is not widely known that arthritis hits children and young people but, since we started, the treatment and research into the condition has come on tremendously.”

She and Bubbles have been involved with the branch for some 37 years. “I would not have kept going without the committee. They have been fantastic,” she said. “They are the best committee a chairman could have.”

Other members of the committee in the branch’s final year have included treasurer Michael Halson, Pam Larson, John Riggall and Jenny Daniels. Ken Scutt is the branch’s president.