A BASINGSTOKE charity is celebrating its 15th anniversary of supporting children and young people in the area.

Spotlight UK was founded in April 2009 to provide low-cost activities for children and young people across Basingstoke but has since expanded to support youngsters elsewhere in Hampshire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Surrey, and London.

The charity held an event to mark the milestone at Dice Tower Gaming Cafe, in London Street, with attendance from MP Maria Miller, mayor Cllr David Leeks, and families supported by Spotlight UK.

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Michaela Riley, founder and chairman, said: "It was our way of celebrating the 15 years of working in the area as well as saying thank you to our supporters.

"We absolutely love what we do and to see such positive changes in children and families and to provide a bit of hope to them and see them smile means so much and is very rewarding,"

Michaela added that the charity has provided 4,500 mental health care packs, and more than 3,000 Christmas presents, as well as taking children to perform on a West End stage, rock climbing, paddle boarding, raft making, and theme park trips.

Ruth Griffiths, headteacher at Rucstall Primary School, said that the charity has made a 'real difference' to many pupils at the school, and many children and families have 'been able to rely on the support of Spotlight'.

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Michaela continued: "We however cannot do this work without the amazing support of local individuals and businesses who get behind us with fundraising so we can keep offering this support and reach more children and families. 

"Alternatively, if people cannot help with fundraising they can visit our charity shop at the Top of Town by McDonald's (7 Winchester Street) and buy items it all goes to helping make a real difference.  

"Our view is we cannot take away the past but we can create new positive memories."