You’ve done it!

Judith O'Reilly, Paul Larkin, Sharon Williams, Julie Mawer and Santa Claus celebrate reachilng the �10,000 Jam Jar Army total.

Judith O'Reilly, Paul Larkin, Sharon Williams, Julie Mawer and Santa Claus celebrate reachilng the �10,000 Jam Jar Army total.

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THE jars are in, the money has been counted and the Gazette is delighted to announce that the Jam Jar Army has ended 2011 victorious.

And on top of north Northumberland residents’ valiant efforts collecting coins, a generous £2,500 donation helped the Army smash its £10,000 target.

So our Christmas gift to HospiceCare North Northumberland is £12,868.89. Since its launch in June, individuals, families, schools, community groups and businesses have been saving their pennies and pounds in jars to raise money for this fantastic cause.

And over the past six months we have reported on those who have gone beyond the call of duty or found interesting ways to drum up support and cash.

But this is not the end for the Jam Jar Army and its success this year has made us determined to continue in 2012 with a different charity. The money raised this year will all go to HospiceCare North Northumberland, which cares for and supports people with life-threatening illnesses and their families and carers across the area.

Peter Slee, chairman of trustees for HospiceCare, said: “This is a tremendous achievement!

“When Judith O’Reilly came to us with her idea, we thought the £10,000 target would be a challenge, but with the Gazette’s campaign and Judith’s enthusiasm, the Jam Jar Army has really caught on.

“We want to say a huge thank-you, and also to all those who have enlisted by filling their jam jars, whether at home, at work or out shopping.

“HospiceCare is here for local people who need our services all over north Northumberland, and it’s good to know that local people are willing to do their bit to help us, even when times are hard.”

The Army’s founder Judith O’Reilly said: “We have had jam jars in shops, cafes, pubs, old people’s homes, schools, churches and in people’s homes all across north Northumberland.

“Many of these places and people have been hard hit by rising prices and job losses or at least the threat of unemployment.

“The hope was that, despite the tough economic times, we could all find a few coins to help out the hospice which is such a great local charity and together we have done just that.

“Most of all, I have to thank the Gazette readers who have proved so generous.

“I hope we have started something with our Jam Jar Army that will become a feature of Northumberland life.

“I would also like to say thank you to Paul Larkin and the Gazette for taking it on. I think the Gazette showed real imagination in carrying it.

“The county has given itself a fantastic Christmas present.”

Gazette editor Paul Larkin said: “It’s absolutely fantastic that we have hit our target in time for Christmas. It may be a bit tight financially for many of us this year but the generosity and community spirit of north Northumberland has shone through.

“Of course, I want to thank everyone who donated or got involved in any way.

“The Jam Jar Army was all about everyone doing their bit to make a big difference, so hopefully people are now in the habit of collecting change and will continue the habit for other good causes.

“Until we announce the next beneficiary, we will give any money brought in to HospiceCare.”

Special thanks go to Tom at Chunky Orange who helped create the Army’s logo, Oli Wood at theapproachablegeek.co.uk who helped with the website, Jon Tait at Lazy Grace for website help, Sharon Williams who collected jam jars, Alnwick Food Festival, schoolchildren from across north Northumberland and, last but not least, the staff at Barclays in Seahouses, who took in all the money.

l If you would like your charity to be considered as the next benficiary of the Jam Jar Army, contact the Gazette on 01665 602234 or email ben.oconnell@northeast -press.co.uk