Andy Beeforth is chief executive of the Cumbria Community Foundation.

Congratulations to the 134 team members from businesses across the county that are taking part in the Community Foundation’s 25th anniversary Virtual Coast to Coast challenge.

There’s no lack of competitive spirit with 18 teams including Armstrong Watson, Burnetts, Centre for Leadership Performance, Gleeson Homes, WCF, Oxley Developments, Cumbria Tourism and the Community Foundation all stepping out. We’ve enjoyed sunny and not so sunny times outdoors, putting in the miles and all enjoying the opportunity to sample Cumbria’s late spring. We’ve had some wonderful feedback from participants.

One said: “This challenge has been a great way to help me be more active during my workday.  I’ve built a standing/walking desk which I use while working from home, and I’ve logged over 35 miles and counting!  As someone who struggles with asthma, it’s a great way to be more active, without too much strain on my body and lungs.”

We will soon have a new Government, bringing with it new energy and new ideas.

I very much hope the reduction in inflation will ease pressure on both businesses and families and together spark a brighter picture. Whomever comes into power will face exceptionally challenging decisions with little wriggle room in the public finances. At times like this we need to draw on our all our talents and ideas.

I know charities have been working hard to influence the thinking in all political parties. We have so many endemic problems, from homelessness to mental health, over-crowded prisons, pressures on the health system and too many people without skills and outside the world of work. Charities are often closest to these issues and can also see the way public sector systems fail to make a difference (despite best efforts). 

In Cumbria, we have over 5,000 charities and community organisations and 50,000 people volunteering regularly.

I have heard very little from any party about what it will do to support those charities and community organisations. I was speaking with one charity leader who was worried that the income from excellent services they provide will soon take them beyond the VAT threshold, immediately adding costs they can’t offset and threatening the growth of a much-needed service. If the Government revisited the VAT regulations, especially for smaller charities, we could all benefit from new and better services at virtually no cost to the state.  

In recent weeks we’ve seen the death of two very cherished and inspirational characters, our own Dave Myers and the remarkable Rob Burrow.

The love for Dave Myers has been overwhelming, as has that for Rob Burrow and his work to create a therapy and support centre for MND sufferers.

Giving to charity is often deeply personal with people giving to causes that connect them to fundamental life experiences. We recently said farewell to one of the Community Foundation’s longest standing supporters, a woman who created three separate grant making funds, two in memory of her sisters. The Topsy Laidlaw Fund makes grants to support older people, and the Violet Laidlaw Fund supports homeless people.

The third fund, created in memory of her parents, who taught the whole family a love of nature and the countryside, supports wildlife and conservation projects in and around Carlisle. She and I first met in 2007 and spent many hours together over the years, sharing her stories, often laughing and sometimes crying. We captured the reasons and meaning behind each fund and now act as custodian to the love and life stories of a special woman. RIP Eleanor. Thank you for your generosity and your trust in the team at Cumbria Community Foundation.