Three talented singers from Cumbria were the big prize winners in the Grand Final of the Furness Building Society Charity Challenge with Rita Baugh from Ulverston scooping £1,000 for St Mary's Hospice, Danielle Messenger from Barrow receiving £750 for the MS Society and Devan Moore from Carlisle getting £500 for the Orchid Project.
The show took place at the Lancaster Grand Theatre on February 8th, with 12 finalists from across the North West competing to win a share of more than £3,000 for their chosen good causes.
Danny Matthews from The Bay's Breakfast show hosted the event and Drive-Time presenter Darren Milby was amongst the judging panel led by Furness Deputy Chief Executive Steve Pryer who presented the prizes. Steve commented: "It was a fantastic show with so many talented performers representing some wonderful charities. As judges we had a hugely difficult task deciding who would get the big cash prizes because the standard was so very high – but of course no-one goes away empty handed because every finalist gets at least £100 for their chosen charity."
Ulverston-based singer songwriter Rita Baugh performed one of her own compositions to represent St Mary's Hospice and wowed the audience and the judges. She was hugely surprised to win – in fact she had already packed away her guitar and after being announced the winner entertained the audience with another song acapella while her partner retrieved their instruments from the car for a triumphant encore!
She said: "I am just so pleased to win the prize for St Mary's Hospice which does great work in the town caring for so many people and their families when they really need it most."
As the ultimate competition winner Rita will also get the chance to be a ‘Star for a Day at The Bay' with a live session and interviews at the radio station.
Supporting the MS Society in the final was a very personal choice for 15 year old Danielle, because her mum Michelle has the condition so she knows first-hand the terrific support offered by the charity. A student at St Bernard's RC School in Barrow, Danielle loves singing and performing, but has been playing the guitar for less than a year. She was delighted to win a big prize for her charity - and for her mum who was in the audience.
Devan, aged 17, from Cargo in Carlisle said: "It was fantastic to take part in the show, and come away with £500 for the Orchid Project which campaigns to stop female genital cutting, and is such a worthwhile charity." Devan is studying for a music diploma at the University of Cumbria campus at Carlisle College, and started performing in public only 2 years ago, singing mainly at charity events.
As a bonus for the audience, X-Factor star Paul Akister and the first ever Charity Challenge winner Amy Jo Clough entertained while the judges were making their decision.
The other charities represented in the final, which each receive £100, were: North West Air Ambulance, Rosemere Cancer Foundation, Age UK Blackpool, CancerCare, The Foxton Centre, the Princes Trust, Derian House Children's Hospice and The Space Centre Preston – which will actually receive £200 because it was represented by 2 of the finalists.