The Final Push: History of the YEP Leeds Half and Half Appeal

Malcolm Barker.Malcolm Barker.
Malcolm Barker.
The YEP's Half and Half Appeal began in June 1982 with the aim of raising £250,000 to share between Leeds's two hospices.

The late Malcolm Barker, who was editor of the Yorkshire Evening Post at the time of the appeal, previously recalled how it came about through discussions in news conference.

“We’d raised money for an all-body scanner and it was our managing director at the time, who asked if there was anything we might do for the hospices. We mulled it over in conference and decided we would have a go.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Fred Willis, who was on newsdesk at the time, piped up and said: ‘So we’re splitting the money 50-50’. I said yes. 
“And then he said: ‘Half and half?’ and we thought: ‘Aha, we have a title”’.”

Mr Barker’s son Patrick was among the early fundraisers, collecting £1.56 through a pen sale. On the appeal’s first anniversary, the YEP published a supplement highlighting fundraising achievements of the appeal’s supporters, with activities including knitting and running with a sack of potatoes.

Mr Barker added: “The whole city seemed to be involved.”

As soon as the Half and Half Appeal launched, the people of Leeds and beyond rallied to donate as much as they could.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Within two years, the original target of £250,000 had been reached – and the money kept coming in.

Donations passed the £1m milestone in 1990 and £2m by 2003.

In 2014, the YEP launched a bid to top the £3m total with ‘Project £3m’. To kick off the fundraising, we came up with #HospiceHalfHour – asking people to give up half and hour of their time during National Hospice Week that year to raise money for the appeal.

Readers, schools and businesses got behind the challenge including supermarket giant Morrisons who held a 30-minute collection in 13 stores, Woodlesford Primary School where every pupil took part in 30 minutes of fundraising and the LNT Group head office in Garforth which had a bacon butty breakfast sale.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Hospice Half Hour helped raise a total of nearly £30,000 for the Appeal that year which was – as usual – divided between the two hospices.

One of the appeal’s most well-known fundraisers it the annual Light Up A Life service which itself raises thousands of pounds each year. The moving event takes place every December as a Christmas appeal where readers can donate money in memory of people they have lost.

The names of their loved ones are then printed on Saturday issues of the paper throughout December as well as displayed next to the Christmas tree at The Light shopping centre, where the Light Up A Life service takes place, with readings and carols.

A regular source of funding for the YEP’s appeal is from the Tetley Pensioners who hold a collection every week, among their 40-odd members.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Chairman Alan Bottomley said: “I don’t know how long it’s been going. I’ve been a Tetley Pensioner for 20 years and it’s been going on since before then. Every week we have a collection and when it gets up to a reasonable amount we’ll send it in – two or three times a year. I think it started when one of our members was at Wheatfields Hospice.”

Many supporters of the appeal, however, just simply quietly donate on poignant anniversaries or occasions in memory of their loved ones.

Theses donations appear in the Yorkshire Evening Post almost every day, carrying with it a short message in tribute to the loved one.

Jan Watson and her family donate every year to the Half and Half Appeal in memory of her cousin Mark Allison, of Gipton, who died aged just 13 of leukaemia in 1987.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The 55-year-old, of Whitkirk, said: “I put something in myself and my mum and my aunties. We put it in on March 18 – the day he died, which was two days after his 13th birthday.”

She added: “Having that sort of a loss just absolutely derails you – even after 30 odd years you still feel it. He was the youngest grandchild and is always in our thoughts – all the time. Not just on his anniversary. He’s on our minds daily to be honest. But having the opportunity to put something in and acknowledge his memoriam is important to us but to be able to donate to the hospices as well in his name is equally important to the family.”

Jan added that she had recently lost a friend who had spent time in St Gemma’s and had been told of the amazing care they provided.

She said: “My cousin Mark never went into a hospice – he died at St James’ Hospital – but I know the hospices do amazing work.”