A Christmas toy appeal supported by Beyond Radio has had more than double the response to last year's with thousands of toys donated as gifts to local children.
The Lancaster BID Christmas Toy Appeal spread joy and kindness this festive season as deliveries of presents were made to local charities and good causes on Monday.
A team of supporters - including Father Christmas himself and Beyond Bear - travelled on a bus arranged by sponsors The Travellers Choice to visit Unique Kidz & Co, CancerCare, Little Joe's Clothes and the Royal Lancaster Infirmary children's ward.
Donations of toys had been made by members of the public over the past month.
Here is a happy Beyond Bear with the delivery bus at St Nic's Arcades loading bay, our starting point, on Monday!
Afterwards Tony Johnson, manager of Lancaster BID, said: "We are so overwhelmed here at Lancaster BID with the generosity and the sheer amount that people have donated this year, there has literally been thousands of toys donated, more than double last year, and we can’t thank everyone enough! It isn’t just a toy, it’s a child’s happiness!
"Today we collected all the donations, filled two cars and a coach, running out of room and having to do two trips! We handed them out to our charities.
"We also received some photos from the ‘Ukrainian Christmas Party’ who picked up some toys from us last week, we are so happy the children enjoyed them, here’s a statement from ‘Mandy from ‘East Meets West’:
'Thank you so much for including us in the toy appeal again this year. We had a wonderful party last night and the children were all delighted with their presents distributed by Father Christmas. We had about 30 children there and another 10 who couldn’t attend either through illness or previous commitments so presents were kept aside for them. We enjoyed a fabulous bring and share buffet and were royally entertained by Kirkby Lonsdale Jazz Band. It never ceases to amaze me how generous the people of Lancaster are, especially when so many families are struggling themselves. We had some presents left over so passed them on to Little Joes who are also being included in the Toy Appeal.’
"It has been a heart-warming day and we’d like to say a huge thank you to all the amazing businesses that got involved and donated, and all the people of Lancaster who made the effort to donate too.
"An extra special thank you to The Travellers Choice and Beyond Radio who have helped BID make it happen.
"Happy Christmas everyone!"
Here is Tony Johnson pictured with Jackie Shaw from The Travellers Choice
The team making deliveries was Tony, Tom Fyson and Maggie Murray from Lancaster BID, Greg Lambert, Sam Cragg, Luke Edmondson and Beyond Bear from Beyond Radio, Jackie and Mark Shaw from The Travellers Choice, Lee-anne Rowell and Caz Gater from Primark, volunteer Lois Newton, Katie Ismail from Unite the Union at Heysham Power Stations, Phil Gregory from Cumberland Building Society and of course Santa himself.
We started our journey at one of the points where toys had been donated over the past month, Cumberland Building Society on Cheapside in Lancaster city centre, for a few photos.
Here are Caz and Lee-anne from Primark with Beyond Bear.
And Santa, Phil and Jackie with the Bear too!
We then took the toys to St Nic's Arcades loading bay to load up the bus and cars.
Our first stop was Unique Kidz & Co in Morecambe, a charity offering day care and holiday club activities for disabled young people.
LISTEN to Chris Pilkington from Unique Kidz & Co
Then we visited CancerCare on Slyne Road to meet their amazing team who support families affected by cancer.
LISTEN to Tony Johnson, manager of Lancaster BID
Our next stop was Little Joe's Clothes at St Joseph's Church in Skerton. They provide clothes and toys for families who need them most.
LISTEN to Karen O'Connor from Little Joe's Clothes
Finally we visited the Royal Lancaster Infirmary children's ward to meet the team and some of the young patients who were delighted to see Santa!
LISTEN to Judith Read from Bay Hospitals Charity at the RLI
It was a fantastic day and the team was delighted with the outcome of the Lancaster BID Christmas Toy Appeal 2023!
LISTEN to the Lancaster BID Toy Appeal team including a word from Father Christmas!