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Reading Chronicle: Fundraising

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Children and a puppy at a Babies' Fete on Peppard Road, Reading

Charitable fundraising has always been an important part of Reading life. Fundraising for the community by the community increased a shared sense of place and united people in Reading across different generations and neighbourhoods. The Berkshire Chronicle was always keen to report on all these activities.

Every summer, fetes were held in large open spaces such as Caversham Park, Denton’s Field at Southcote and Palmer Park in east Reading, sometimes with noteworthy guests and performers such as English comedy actress, Hattie Jacques. These drew in considerable crowds of people and raised large amounts of money for different causes around the town. Likewise fairs were held in some of the larger spaces in Reading such as Olympia Ballroom on London Street and the Town Hall on Blagrave Street.

Some fundraising was more targetted. Each year saw church congregations raising money for the fabric of their buildings and the wellbeing of their communities. Reading hospitals including Battle Hospital on Oxford Road and the Royal Berkshire Hospital on London Road held fundraising events for future health care in the town, also celebrating the hard work carried out by nurses and others in the health care profession.

Other charity events were hosted by a well-known face. For example, English comedian Richard Hearne created an annual fundraising event in Reading to raise money for people with disabilities during the 1950s and 1960s. He was also eager to provide Reading with its first hydrotherapy pool. Hearne would arrive dressed up as his comedic character, 'Mr Pastry', and take a tour of the town on a decorated float. He would be equipped with a megaphone which he would use to shout his message everywhere he went. Later he would sign autographs at a fair in the Olympia Ballroom.

The Chronicle published hundreds of photographs showing local people’s kindness and generosity, the results of their fundraising efforts, and the fun they had along the way! Many more were taken but never used. Images like these are still a mainstay of local newspapers.

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