Beloved Bognor charity saved from closure after £15,000 donation

Danny Dawes (middle) said he was brought to tears after a 15,000 donation saved Grandad's Front Room from closure. Photo: Kate Shemilt
Danny Dawes (middle) said he was brought to tears after a 15,000 donation saved Grandad's Front Room from closure. Photo: Kate Shemilt

A generous couple have saved a beloved Bognor charity from possible closure by donating £15,000 to secure its future.

Grandad's Front Room, run at 2-4 High Street, was set up four years ago by community figurehead Danny Dawes to support individuals, community groups, and other local charities,

However, it was facing closure last week due to a lack of funds.

Writing on the charity's Facebook page on Friday, Danny wrote: "We are not in a good place with funds. We do have an income in the form of the sale of goods in the front room and our online sales but for the first time in over four years we are really struggling.

"Within the next four weeks, we have £3,000 in rent to pay, almost £3,000 in business rates, electric, van insurance and diesel, £850 to print the community street handout for those that struggle in our community and a £700 buildings maintenance bill to our landlord."

'Bognor needs Grandad's Front Room'

The post sparked an outpouring of support from residents and Bognor mum Gemma Hawkins, who runs the EcoSwap Community Hub in Durban Road, set up a fundraiser to raise £3,000 and 'secure the future' of Grandad's Front Room.

She wrote: "There are many tales to be told about Grandad's Front Room but one recurrent theme is that it is a place of safety, acceptance, camaraderie and custard creams.

"This magical place isn't just a place to find quirky treasures to fill the gap on the shelf, it's somewhere that people can go when they have no where else to turn.

"Bognor needs Grandad's Front Room, in fact everywhere needs one! If we let this precious asset to our community slip through our fingers it will be a tragedy."

'We had people begging us not to go'

After just five days, the fundraiser has exceeded £3,200, thanks to donations from 181 people but that figure is only a portion of the money donated to the charity since the weekend.

Danny said: "We have so many people come into the shop. We have had dear old ladies in tears, giving us money and begging us not to go. A little boy, who couldn't have been older than five, came in and handed over a few pounds.

"Saturday was the busiest we have ever been. We have never had more donations in a single day. It was a fantastic day."

It didn't end there though, with Danny later receiving a surprise phone call.

"I had a call from a guy who told me to come and have a coffee with him and his wife," he said.

"I wasn't sure what to expect but I went and he ended up handing over £15,000 because he believed in what we are doing and wanted to keep us going. I couldn't believe it.

"It reduced me to tears. This has never happened to us before. It is brilliant. We put the £15,000 through the till and have framed the receipt.

"I don't think they realise what this money means. It will enable us to do so much and stay here for a long time. People like them don't exist in my world.

"They wanted to remain anonymous and be simply known as kind, local benefactors."

Danny said the reaction of the community has made him 'even more proud of Bognor'.

"This community has got its problems but you don't have to scratch very hard at the surface to find fantastic people," he said.

"Things will definitely change for the better."

Bognor Regis Men's Sheds will still have to move out from its base in Durban Road, though, Danny confirmed.

He said: "We have to do things in a more organised way. It will continue to offer the same service but will unfortunately have to find somewhere else to operate.

"We need to use our money more wisely."

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