Reach Learning Disability is extending a huge thank you to the Southwell area for raising £40,000 through the Big Give Christmas Challenge to help people with learning disabilities across Nottinghamshire.

The charities strapline is 'beyond expectation' and local people have certainly gone beyond expectation for Reach. Pensioners have donated their Winter Fuel allowance whilst professional masseuse Jacqui collected just under £200 by offering free Indian Head Massages.

Great support was also received from members of local gardening clubs, Oakmere Golf Club Commanders Ladies, Farnsfield Slimming World, and local schools including Lowe's Wong Junior School and Bleasby school who have been collecting old coins and notes.

Activities held during the week included a Christmas Sing Along at Southwell Library with American versions of familiar favourites causing much hilarity. Southwell Women's group held a special afternoon tea for families and we enjoyed welcoming donors to Reach Southwell through the week.

The charity relies on voluntary income to offer the very high-quality, person-centred service that enables people with learning disabilities to improve their quality of life and reduce their risk of preventable poor health. The £20,000 raised in online donations will now be matched by £10,000 from local pledgers including businesses and groups like Andrew Spybey & Associates, Southwell & District and Edwinstowe & the Dukeries Lions and Pinders Opticians plus a further £10,000 from Candis Magazine – a Charity Champion.

Reach was also delighted that the Co-op Local Community Fund donated £14,624 for outdoor activities at Flower Pod, meaning they will be able to run more activities which make a real impact on the health of their clients.

The charity has just published its annual report which explains how the money raised is spent. Here is the story of a Reach service users – you can read more in the full report on the Reach website.

Amelia has Down's syndrome and found the move from school to adult services stressful, but with the support of Reach and her family, has now adapted well. Amelia says: "When I come to Reach I feel amazing and very happy. I like the people, bowling, Boccia, singing, swimming and going to the cinema. I can sort out clothes and laundry by myself too, make the beds and clean the house. I am going to go to Flower Pod more soon. I like gardening, digging and pulling up weeds."

Her mum Charlotte says: "Amelia is now blossoming – her attitude, behaviour, and emotional state are unrecognisable from 18 months ago. It is such a joy to see Amelia progressing towards a more independent life and gaining new life-skills."

Reach is very grateful for the community's support throughout 2018 and wishes everyone a Happy Christmas and New Year!