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Secret donor helps champion New Milton fundraiser Chris Carian hit her £50k target after hanging up her collecting tin

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CHAMPION fundraiser Chris Carian is to hang up her collecting tin after nearly 30 years, having hit her £50,000 target thanks to a secret donor.

Through rain and shine for more than two decades Chris has devoted her Saturdays to standing in New Milton high street to collect donations for local good causes.

She planned last year that she would give up once she reached her target. But after recently deciding the time finally had come to stop, a disappointed Chris was £2,000 short.

Chris Carian was thrilled to be given the honour of having her name put on a brass plaque outside Boots
Chris Carian was thrilled to be given the honour of having her name put on a brass plaque outside Boots

However, this week an anonymous donor stepped in to make sure she made it.

A delighted Chris said: “It was just amazing, I cannot thank them enough. To reach the magic target before I retire makes me so happy.”

Chris’s charity crusade began in 1993 with an effort to help the local branch of St John Ambulance that her nine-year-old daughter had just joined.

She said: “They only had £91 in their coffers, so I thought I had better do something to boost it.

“I started doing car boot sales which I carried on for 16 years. Then in 2000 I also set up a stall outside Boots in Station Road, New Milton, selling donated goods to raise money.”

Chris, who lives in New Milton, has become familiar to local residents, setting out her stall from April to November nearly every Saturday, from 8.45am to 4pm.

She said: “Sometimes it was blooming cold, but I just kept going. The amazing generosity of people over the years has helped.

“If it rained, I sheltered under Boots’ roof. Everything I have sold at the stall was donated by people. At least £47,000 of the money I have raised has come from the goods that were kindly given to me.

“The rest came from shaking my collection tin outside Tesco at Christmas and also from garage sells – the final one of which was last weekend.”

Chris Carian has spent 20 years outside Boots
Chris Carian has spent 20 years outside Boots

Chris chose to support her main charity New Milton Stroke Group, for which she has raised £19,460, after her own father Jack Betts suffered one which led to his death.

She has also collected £11,290 for the St John Ambulance, £3,250 for the Blind Club and £14,000 for Neighbour Care.

The only time she stopped fundraising was in 2008 after she had a big operation.

The year before she had been “absolutely delighted” to receive a Good Neighbour Award which was followed in 2013 by Chris being named New Milton Town Council’s Citizen of the Year.

A plaque in her honour was installed on a bench near Boots.

Chris said she decided finally to end her charity efforts due to a decrease in footfall in the town, leading to fewer donations.

She said: “It has been an absolute privilege and joy to do this work.”

Chris is not retiring from supporting charities altogether, as she will still be helping out at the Mencap shop in Station Road.

Paying tribute, New Milton mayor Cllr Keith Craze said: “I want to congratulate Chris on the wonderful work she has done over the years. She has contributed so much to the community.”

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