GERI joins our appeal
PUBLISHED: 11:14 06 November 2008 | UPDATED: 10:14 23 August 2010
TODAY your Reporter/Kentish Times series launches a fantastic toy appeal to make Christmas extra special to children who spend the festive season in hospital. Following the success of last year s campaign, where thousands of toys were donated by readers,
TODAY your Reporter/Kentish Times series launches a fantastic toy appeal to make Christmas extra special to children who spend the festive season in hospital.
Following the success of last year's campaign, where thousands of toys were donated by readers, the editorial team have decided to do it all again.
Scores of children will spend the winter nights in hospital and hundreds as out-patients across north Kent and south-east London
All we ask is for readers to buy a gift for a sick child and send it in to our offices for us to deliver on your behalf during a special Christmas hand-over.
This year former Spice Girl turned children's author Geri Halliwell, 36, has pledged her support and offered to send toys to our appeal.
Today she is set to appear at Bluewater shopping centre for the launch of the spectacular Christmas light display. She will also treat guests to an exclusive reading from Ugenia Lavender, part of a series of six children's fiction books she wrote. The mother-of-one said: "It is so important to be grateful for what you have, we are all so lucky really. So many people have nothing at all.
"My message to all children in hospital this Christmas is just get well soon and you are being very brave - just keep it up. I wish you all a merry Christmas."
Vowing to donate she added: "I have got a massive bag of toys that I was just about to throw away, perfectly good toys, and it would be such a shame to throw them away and would be very happy to give them to the Toy Appeal.
"I have learned the more you give, the more the world gives back to you. It feels good to give, no matter how small the gift."
Toys pledged for our appeal will go directly to the hospital in your area, for the newspaper you buy or receive through your door.
At a time when everyone is feeling the effect of the credit-crunch or economic downturn this is an appeal where all gifts, whatever the price, are gratefully received.
In Dartford and Gravesend it will benefit children at Darent Valley Hospital.
In Bromley, readers will donate to Princess Royal University Hospital and in Bexley and Swanley Queen Mary's Hospital, Sidcup and Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich.
Businesses are also encouraged to support the campaign and send gifts to our head office in Sidcup or our base in Gravesend.
Former British darts champion Andy Fordham, who helps his wife Jenny run the Cutty Sark pub in Thamesmead, was happy to donate a giant pick up truck to our campaign.
The Dartford-born British Darts Organisation champ is waiting to go to hospital himself for a liver transplant following a dramatic stroke after Christmas 2006.
The 46-year-old said: "It's hard enough for adults sitting in hospital, let alone for kids.
"I've got two kids of my own and I know it would take more than a telly to stop them getting bored.
"It's typical that the public need to step in to help out, so I'm glad someone's on the case. Some kids at Christmas won't have anyone to give them presents. Hopefully this will cheer them up a bit."
Chris Till, children's CITV and GMTV presenter and star of this year's Woodville Halls Pantomime in Gravesend has also offered his support.
The 28-year-old, who has also starred in the West End, will play the Prince in this year's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. He said: "I just want to encourage the people of Gravesham to donate some toys for this wonderful cause. It is important for people to support this worthy appeal and build on the success of the first appeal last year."
He added: "I am on TV five days a week and work with a live audience and lots of children so I know how important it is for them to have a special Christmas and this appeal can really help us make this happen.
"Pantomime is very good for young children and is important they see live theatre this is why I am delighted to be on stage at Woodville Halls this year. I have actually visited children in hospital, a couple of years ago I visited Queen Mary's in Sidcup, so I know how important this appeal is."
Presents will be donated to specific children wards and will also benefit children receiving out-patient care.
Many children have to undergo unpleasant and recurring treatments such as blood transfusions for leukaemia sufferers.
Others will be kept on the paediatric wards where thousands of children pass through each year.
Rugby player Topsy Ojo was more than happy to chip in a Whinny the Pooh puzzle set.
The 23-year-old started playing rugby union at Dartford Grammar School and was called up for the national team last May.
The winger said: "Christmas time is usually spent with family and it must be incredibly difficult, especially for children, to be told they cannot spend Christmas at home.
"I really hope that in donating toys to the local hospitals, we can really help the kids still enjoy Christmas time."
HOW AND WHAT TO DONATE
Toys should be suitable for children aged 0-16-years and come unwrapped, in their original packaging.
What we don't want: Soft toys or clothes, new infection control guidelines do not allow them. Examples of what we do want: Puzzles, dolls, board games, plastic farm animals, arts and crafts, books, cars, train sets, wooden toys, CDs, stereos, personal stereos, DVDs, DVD players, PlayStation 2 games, all sizes of nightwear, baby toys, musical instruments.
Don't forget to write your name, address and contact number to be in with a chance of entering the Orchard Theatre prize draw.
Please send gifts to: Kentish Times Newspapers, Roxby House, Station Road, Sidcup, DA15 7EJ or Kentish Times Newspapers, The Courtyard, Unit 4 7A Manor Road, Gravesend, Kent, DA12 1AA.