There is a reason to celebrate in 2018 already for charities in South London.

Grants totalling nearly £300,000 have been handed in the annual round of donations made on behalf of Newsquest Media Group, one of the UK's leading regional news publishers.

Over the last ten years alone, Newsquest - which publishes this newspaper - has given more than £3 million to help charitable community causes all over the country.

The trustees who make the grants agonised for days to make difficult choices from a stack of deserving applications, but narrowed the list down to those which they thought would deliver the most worthwhile practical benefits to communities served by Newsquest’s local news brands.

This year, the recipients included charities in New Malden, one in Croydon, one in Greenwich, one in Kingston and one in Twickenham.

Marion Kennett is the secretary at the Greenwich Talking Newspaper Association and was overcome with emotion when she found out they had been given £800 to go towards providing ways for the blind and visually impaired to still consume the news through a weekly audio recording.

"This is really lovely Christmas news," she said.

"We're run almost entirely by volunteers and all our money comes from these kind of grants and donations.

"We produce every week except Christmas and Easter so this will go a long towards giving more people the opportunity to get their local news."

Ms Kennett noted that they are always looking for more volunteers to help out and you can contact her on 0208 859 5671 if you are interested in signing up.

Hospices featured highly on the list again this year. The trustees consider them an essential service, which of course operates completely outside the NHS. By the same token, the trustees could not say no to the Homelink Day Respite Care Centre in Twickenham as it's often the little things that really count.

The trustees are hoping the £535 put towards a commercial food mixer for the Homelink will make all the difference.

Business manager at the centre, Jen Clarke, couldn't believe the charity had been awarded the grant.

“When clients come to us each week, we work hard to ensure they all enjoy their day with us through a varied programme of activities suitable for all abilities and this includes a popular cookery activity," she said.

"It is especially wonderful to see clients who may not be able to converse properly or walk without a frame smiling when they’re rolling out pastry or using their hands to mix ingredients.

"They often say it reminds them of how they used to bake and cook in their younger years.

"This grant is just really, really great news.

"What better gift could you ask for?"

The organisation cares for 140 people each week, around 70 per cent of whom have dementia, enabling their carers to get a well deserved break from their caring role.

The mixer that the money will got toward 'cookery time'. At the moment its cooker can't cater to a large amount of people, so not everyone can join in.

Now thanks to the grant, many more people will have the opportunity to get in on the fun.

The two biggest awards of £15,000 each went to two charities founded in the 19th century by a group of benefactors including novelist Charles Dickens. They are now known as the Journalists’ Charity and Newstraid, both helping people who have worked in the newspaper industry but have fallen on hard times. And another grant went to the Rory Peck Trust which looks after the interests and welfare of freelance journalists.

Similarly, one of the biggest grants given to the five south London groups was £4,000 to 21 & Co, a support group for children with Down's Syndrome and their families.

Co-chairwoman and trustee of 21 & Co, Louise Beattie, said this funding was exactly the kind of thing they needed.

"I want to give these young people a chance to be independent but also be cared for," she said.

"It's also important for them to have adult role models giving them lessons in life, road safety and the opportunity to make lots of friendships within the Down's Syndrome community."

Volunteers at the New Malden-based charity do everything from visit people soon after they’ve had a baby with a diagnosis of Down's Syndrome diagnoses and help with any queries, to helping parents make friends with other people in similar situations.

"I felt the 11 and older service was a bit lacking," Ms Beattie said.

"At the moment there is only about one evening a month to meet up which isn’t very much, and we were always using the same location and doing similar things.

"Knowing what teenagers are like I wanted to give kids the chance to go bowling, go to the cinema, go to Thorpe Park and experience something they might not have had the chance to do yet.

"This money will help with that."

In Croydon, the Garwood Foundation has been serving the community for 65 years.

This year it was awarded £6,370 which will go towards eye gaze technology, including software for a school providing education to young people with profound and multiple learning disabilities.

In the application form, Garwood's director of services wrote that: "A number of children have clear cognitive ability which they are unable to exercise through their physical and communication challenges.

"Recent experience has demonstrated that eye-gaze technology can both assist in assessing the cognitive ability of pupils and provide a medium for them to engage with the world through educational and fun activities."

At the moment only eight of the 23 students benefit from the technology. The hope is that thanks to this funding, all can now benefit.

Chairman of the trustees, Simon Westrop, said it was good to see so many worthy applications.

"Year on year, we are seeing better applications with more focused attention on different ways of helping - caring for the present but also building for the future.

“If your application did not succeed this time, please don’t be discouraged, but look at the applications that have won grants and think how you can come up with even better ideas next year.”

The Kingston Carers Group is the final charity in south London to receive the good news from Newsquest.

It received £1,900 to put towards purchasing things like cooking equipment and sporting items to help support the young carers.

The relatively new organisation offers peer support activities, parental health support and even school lunch clubs for people aged 5 to18 with a family member with an illness or condition.

The Gannett Foundation UK, which makes the grants, retains a modest reserve to cater for urgent applications until the next round of awards in November 2018. Applications can be made through any local Newsquest Media Group editor.