Norfolk child bereavement charity Nelson’s Journey is celebrating the best possible early Christmas present – thanks in part to the generosity of readers.

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Just a year after its Smiles House appeal for a purpose-built home in Little Plumstead was relaunched in the EDP and Evening News, the £575,000 fundraising goal, allowing building work to start, has been reached.

Smiles House will provide a welcoming home to support Norfolk’s bereaved children and young people and a base for events that will bring families together.

This year alone the charity will have worked with more than 450 children and young people, highlighting the importance of the charity’s work and the demand for its services.

Nelson’s Journey chief executive Colin Lang said: “It speaks volumes about the generosity of the people, charitable trusts and companies that has enabled the charity to get to this point. These are tough economic times both for individuals and businesses and for people to dig deep and donate their money to us is humbling and so gratefully appreciated.

“By raising the £575,000 we can complete the construction of our much-needed headquarters and then look to raise further funds to fit the building out, so we can move our staff as well as the young people and families who need our help to this fabulous new location.”

It costs the charity £430,000 a year to run its core activities and it is reliant on the public for donations with 45pc of Nelson’s Journey income coming from the fundraising of individuals. Other support comes from charitable trusts and groups in the community. Mr Lang said: “As always, the fundraising certainly does not end here. However, it is crucial we take the time to say a sincere and heartfelt thanks for all the help we have received.”

Readers are invited to continue their support by visiting Virgin Money Giving at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/smilesappeal or by sending a cheque made payable to Nelson’s Journey to Nelson’s Journey, Trafalgar House, 4 Meridian Way, Norwich, NR7 0TA.

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