Telegraph Christmas appeal: how our generous readers raised £600,000 for three amazing charities

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Telegraph charity appeal  - Geoff Pugh 

Thanks to our generous readers, the Telegraph's Charity Appeal 2019 raised £597,636.89, our biggest overall total since 2015 and more than £100,000 more than last year's sum.

On December 1 alone, Telegraph readers pledged an astonishing £101,139.66 during our annual Christmas charity phone-in. 

The remarkable sum was raised for our three chosen charities: Leukaemia Care, Wooden Spoon and The Silver Line.

Leukaemia Care, a national blood cancer charity, supports those affected and, crucially, aims to increase rates of early diagnosis. 

The Silver Line offers support to millions of elderly people in the UK, many of whom are lonely with few people to speak to. The money donated by our readers helps them connect with volunteers.  

Wooden Spoon is the "children's charity of rugby". It harnesses the power and networking of the rugby community to raise funds for projects helping disadvantaged and disabled children and young people across the UK.

"We are very moved by the generosity of the Telegraph's readers and wish to thank them for their amazing support," said Leukaemia Care's COO Monica Izmajlowicz.

"Not only with donations but in getting to know us through the stories shared by patients and their families.

"Their support will allow Leukaemia Care to provide practical help to patients and their families through our hospital travel and counselling grants, as well as promoting early diagnosis through our SpotLeukaemia campaign and work with GPs." 

The money will go towards helping people like Steven Smith, who told The Telegraph of the loneliness felt when undergoing chemotherapy. "From day one, Shirley [Emmerson, a regional coordinator for the charity] would always laugh with me... It's just a giggle, but that laughter makes you feel better." 

Leukaemia Care - Charlotte Graham

In December Welsh rugby legend Shane Williams spoke of his admiration for Wooden Spoon at an autism centre for teenagers and young adults in the Rhondda Valley, South Wales. Williams, whose teenage niece has autism, said: "I've seen first hand how difficult it can be."

Williams helped raise over £250,000 for the charity during a rugby match played near Mount Everest's base camp, describing it as "one of the toughest things I've done."

"We are absolutely thrilled with the amount raised by the Telegraph Christmas Appeal," said Wooden Spoon CEO Sarah Webb. "It has been such an exciting project from start to finish. The Telegraph team have been so professional and committed to the appeal and their readers have been so generous." 

Shane Williams at the Autism Life Centre in South Wales - Jay Williams

Webb explained that the money would fund national initiatives that "change the lives of children and young people living in local communities across the UK. £5,000 could fund a rugby wheelchair, giving a young person with a disability access to sport.

"£14,000 could fund a playroom for vulnerable children to help provide them with emotional support. And £25,000 could fund an adventure playground allowing children with disabilities the opportunity to learn key skills through play.

"It is a phenomenal amount of money and from all of us at Wooden Spoon, a big thank you." 

In another of our charity stories, Muriel Bazeley, 83, detailed how living on Shetland, while beautiful, is isolated and "very, very quiet". "I love talking to people," she said, which is why she often chose to call The Silver Line. "I got in touch right from the beginning. I think Esther Rantzen [the charity's founder] is out of this world. I'd love to get a cuddle from her." 

Rantzen told the Telegraph that the money raised by the charity appeal was beyond "our wildest dream. It was a fantastic series of articles about our callers and volunteers, and helped spread awareness as well. We didn't predict this at all." 

Esther Rantzen with Peggy Weaver, one of The Silver Line's regular callers - Clara Molden

Rantzen spoke of a 90-year-old merchant navy veteran and "wonderful conversationalist", who was "entirely imprisoned in one room in a little village", due to physical problems. With The Silver Line's help, he has been connected to a local group of seafarers and regularly speaks to a member of the charity.

"Without the donations from your amazing readers, we wouldn't be able to do any of that," said Rantzen. "There are so many others like him, we get 10,000 calls each week.

"This extraordinarily generous donation lifts our spirits, we realise that people do appreciate the work of our staff and volunteers. It also enables us to reach out so much further to isolated and lonely people who have nobody else in their lives." 

For more information about our three charities, see woodenspoon.org.ukleukaemiacare.org.ukthesilverline.org.uk