WHEN their hearts are touched by something, whether it is round the corner or across the world, the people of the North-East have a track record of being hugely generous.

We know from the experience of our own appeals - helping to set up a children's hospice, raising money to fund cancer specialists, sending a little girl to America for life-changing surgery to her facial disfigurement, and many more - that our readers never let us down.

But with so many good causes, so many reasons for hearts to be touched, charity can only stretch so far. There may be a bottomless well of goodwill but pockets are only so deep.

The public response to the tsunami disaster was unprecedented, magnificent and heart-warming. At a time of so much international tension, it demonstrated that people do care deeply about strangers in far-off lands. It did much to restore our faith in humanity and, after international doubt about the war in Iraq, it began to restore Britain's reputation abroad.

But the inevitable consequence has been that charities back home have suffered from a knock-on effect. The Great North Air Ambulance, for example, is having to ground two of its three helicopters from the end of this month because of a funding crisis. Other charities in our region are experiencing similar problems.

Many of these are quiet, undramatic charities. Their work does not hog the headlines; they do not require international co-operation and global airlifts to get their jobs done. And so the publicity they receive is on a very small scale.

With the official agencies saying that the urgency of the tsunami appeal has passed - at least for now - we hope that other charities which do such wonderful work are remembered.