In an unprecedented moment in Jam Jar Army history, the public vote has not resulted in a winner as two charities have ended up in a tie.
Our readers have been voting furiously over the past two weeks for their favourite from a shortlist of six, all of which were nominated by the public.
The poll was tight all fortnight with the lead frequently changing hands and forms coming in up until Tuesday’s 5pm deadline, but in the end – and despite several recounts – we ended up with a draw.
The top two were Abbeyfield North Northumberland Extra Care Society and Northumbrian Hedgehog Rescue Trust. They finished ahead of Brambles Childcare Centre, Northumbrian CAB, Refuse to Sink and W Company – Northumbria Army Cadet Force.
Unfortunately, it means that we cannot reveal how we are going forward this week, but we will provide more information in next week’s Gazette. It could mean having a vote-off to decide the winner or taking the historic step of sharing the proceeds of the 2016 campaign, but it will be decided in consultation with the two charities.
The Jam Jar Army appeal was first launched in May 2011 after author Judith O’Reilly came to us with the idea, and the target of raising £10,000 for HospiceCare North Northumberland was set.
By the end of the year, the appeal, which at its simplest sees homes, shops and other businesses collecting small change in jam jars, had raised more than £13,000.
It was followed, after a reader vote, by Alnwick Playhouse Youth Theatre in 2012, dog charity SHAK in 2013 and The Stephen Carey Fund in 2014, taking the overall total raised to more than £50,000.
Last year, it was the turn of the Amble Shannon Appeal, which is aiming to raise £200,000 to bring a state-of-the-art Shannon-class lifeboat to the harbour town. Thousands more have been raised in jam jars, while the Shannon appeal itself has gone from strength to strength, raising £80,000 in the past year.