MERRY Christmas from the Oxford Mail – four worthy causes will be able to do more good in our community after receiving funding from our publisher’s charitable fund.

Newsquest Media Group is one of the UK’s leading news publishers and over the last ten years alone it has given more than £3 million to help charitable community projects all over the country.

This year, four local causes have been awarded the funding they asked for.

These include Dovecote Voluntary Parent Committee, Blackbird Leys, which will receive £8,645.

Founded in 1996 by a group of parents, it provides a range of activities to improve the lives of children from deprived backgrounds or with special needs.

It will use the money to buy all-weather Astro Turf for its outdoor play area, new equipment such as goal posts and a seesaw and new indoor toys such as board games and fancy dress costumes.

Carol Richards, children and families services manager at the Dovecote Centre, said: “The support of the Gannett Foundation is very much appreciated and valued.

“What a fabulous Christmas present to hear we have received the funding. It is a great feeling to know we have the resources to provide children, young people and families living in Blackbird Leys with a more exciting and stimulating environment in which to have many hours of fun whilst learning and developing in the coming year.

“A huge thank you to trustees for their valuable support; in such a challenging time for voluntary groups this means such a lot to the Children and Families project and huge pick-me-up.”

The trustees who make the grants have agonised for days to make difficult choices from a stack of deserving applications, but they narrowed the list down to those which they thought would deliver the most worthwhile practical benefits.

Also benefitting this year is the Sylva Foundation, which manages the Sylva Wood Centre in south Oxfordshire, supporting innovation and enterprise through training facilities for young crafters and the wider public.

Dr Gabriel Hemery, chief executive, said: “We were surprised and really delighted to learn that we were successful in our application to the Gannett Foundation, for £4,255.

“We will use the funding to build a cycle shelter at the Sylva Wood Centre for visitors, and a short cycleway which will link to a popular Sustrans cycling route.

“The award will help us welcome people to explore and enjoy the Sylva Wood Centre, and all it has to offer, without resorting to the car. This means that more people can enjoy walking around the young forest and community orchard, and also come to our open days, exhibitions, and training courses by bike.”

Katharine House Hospice will receive £7,150 to provide a new bed at the in-patient unit for people facing life-limited illnesses. And the Oxfordshire Dyslexic Association will receive £5,000 to start a new Saturday school to support people with dyslexia.

If your application missed out this year, you can try again next year. Applications are invited by advertisement the Mail from the end of July.

The Gannett Foundation UK, which makes the grants, retains a modest reserve to cater for urgent applications until the next round of awards are made in December 2019. Ad hoc applications can be made through Oxford Mail editor Samantha Harman.

Chairman of the trustees, Simon Westrop, said: “Amid all the political and economic turmoil, real life goes on of course. And it is a privilege for the trustees to be able to do a little something to help where we can.

“If your application did not succeed this time, please don’t be discouraged, but look at the applications that have won grants and think how you can come up with even better ideas next year.

“Often we think the best applications are not the headline-grabbers but the small ones that meet a particular need and instantly improve daily life. For instance, the new kettle the community centre has been wanting for ages. So think practically.”