TWO local charities received an early Christmas present after they were successful in applying for a grant from the charitable arm of The Gazette’s parent company.

The teams at Sebastian’s Action Trust, which runs a respite holiday home in North Waltham, and the Dummer branch of Riding for the Disabled, are celebrating after they bagged a slice of the cash fund given out each year by the Gannett Foundation.

Sebastian’s Action Trust, which runs The Bluebells, a holiday home for seriously-ill children and their families in North Waltham, successfully applied for a grant of £15,736.

The money will be used to fund a hydrotherapy swimming pool service, including the adaptation of the pool changing room to create a wet room shower facility that will be accessible to disabled day visitors.

The grant will allow the charity to operate the pool, which must be kept at a temperature of over 30 degrees celsius 24 hours a day, for a year.

Jane Gates, director of the charity, said: “We are enormously grateful for this grant and for everyone who supports Sebastian’s Action Trust. We are a small charity and rely on support such as this.”

Riding for the Disabled has been given £6,415 – money that will be spent on a ramp and platform which will make it easy for young riders to safely mount and dismount from the ponies on their own terms.

The charity, which is run by volunteers, works to give disabled young people the chance to learn to ride. This helps to improve their strength and balance and can also lead to a great sense of achievement and an increase in confidence.

The ramp and platform will give the young riders a safer and more dignified way to mount and dismount the ponies on their own terms instead of being physically lifted from their wheelchair position to the saddle.

Bob Jenner OBE, group chair of the charity, said: “By installing this ramp and platform, we can potentially cope with more disabled children who are older and heavier. We know there are a number of children in the area who could benefit.”

Gazette editor Mark Jones, who presented both cheques, said: “I am delighted these two very deserving good causes have been successful in their grant applications. The money that has been awarded will clearly make a very important difference to the two charities and the people they are seeking to help and support.”

The Gannett Foundation is the charitable arm of Gannett the parent company of Newsquest Media Group, one of the UK’s largest publishers and the owner of Gazette Newspapers.

The foundation provides funding to registered charities in the areas where Newsquest operates local newspapers and websites, and the latest round of applications saw a total of £328,577 distributed in 38 grants to good causes across the UK.