Three charities have received an early Christmas gift of nearly £20,000 between them to support their care of the sick and vulnerable.

Members of the committee of the Durham Shopping Extravaganza presented £6,500 each to St Teresa’s Hospice, in Darlington, Weardale-based Tabitha’s Toys and If U Care Share Foundation, based in Chester-le-Street.

The money was raised at the 28th Durham Shopping Extravaganza, which is run entirely by volunteers and was held at Ramside Hall Hotel, near Durham, over two days in October.

In addition to the money presented to the three main charities, further smaller donations will be made in the new year to other worthy causes, taking the total raised by the DSE since it started to more than £400,000.

Co-chair Nicky Swan said: “We have a fantastic team of volunteers who work tirelessly throughout the year to make the DSE happen. However, we wouldn’t be here at all if not for our donors and sponsors – BHP Law, Lycetts, Brewin Dolphin and Sherwoods – whose support covers our expenses and means that every penny from our entrance charge, raffle tickets and tombola, as well as ten per cent from sales donated by our stall holders, goes straight to charity.

“The amazing work of our benefiting charities is what makes it all worthwhile. We know that all the money that’s been raised will be very well spent.

“St Teresa’s Hospice is so valued by the people who need its services and their families, and Tabitha’s Toys helps improve the lives of children with life-limiting conditions. It’s been wonderful for us to learn about the work done by If U Care Share. By talking about the difficult topic of mental illness and suicide hopefully we can limit it in the future.”

Chairman of the Trustees of St Teresa’s, Dr Harry Byrne, said it cost £10,000 to fit out each of the rooms in the hospice’s new ten-bed in-patient unit, so the £6,500 would go a long way towards completing one of the rooms.

Shirley Smith lost her son Daniel to suicide in 2005 when he was 19. His siblings, including brother Matthew, had the idea of If U Care Share to provide suicide prevention support by helping people access services and a range of activities, from horse-riding to boxing.

“We try to bring colour into very dark places by making sure people have the right support that they need as an individual,” said Shirley.

The charity has grown to a team of ten and is now involved in helping to shape national policy strategy on mental health services.

Matthew, who runs prevention workshops to groups from schoolchildren to the Premier League, added: “I wasn’t aware of the DSE before but these ladies work so hard and raise so much money without any recognition for what they do. It’s been a pleasure to get to know them.”

Retired police officer George Jefferson started Tabitha’s Toys with his wife Christine and their friend Jacqui Lees-Moore, whose daughter had Edward’s Syndrome and sadly died at the age of three.

The charity now supplies sensory toys, equipment and iPads to 320 children with complex needs across the North East.

George said: “We want to say a very big thank you to everyone involved in the DSE for their kindness and generosity, which will help provide special toys for some very special children.”

Next year’s event is already confirmed, with a further extension to opening hours, on October 4 from 11.30-8.30pm, and October 5 from 10am-4pm. For more information, visit www.durhamshoppingextravaganza.co.uk