Colin Grainger

Brilliant! Your kindness brought toy joy to thousands of children

It gives me great pleasure to report that the appeal at the heart of life in Newham reached its massive target in time to spread seasonal joy – and now it is time to say thank you.

The Community Links and Newham Recorder Toy Appeal has achieved its target of 18,000 toys – an incredible achievement. It has taken much hard work from everyone involved in the community in Newham.

The kindness shown has helped change the lives of some young ones who would otherwise have lost out. It was the 40th consecutive year the campaign managed to spread joy and happiness.

We will all had our own ways of celebrating over the festive period, and thousands of children who would not have felt that joy had a happier Christmas.

Individuals, groups and organisations and volunteers have all come forward to do their bit.

I am proud to have been a part of the campaign for all its years, the first 20 in many editorial roles and then as 15 years as Editor of the Newham Recorder. In the last five years as a freelance journalist and editor, I have also become a Freeman of Links and a patron of the toy appeal.

Many youngsters who benefited from campaigns years ago are now workers or volunteers at Links. It is a philosophy that has stood the test of time: helping and enabling people to help themselves.

The festive spirit shone brightly locally. The generous donations made have ensured there are presents for the children who need them the most.

There were moments when we thought the campaign would fail for the first time in its history, but the then came  an incredible £6,500 donation from Stratford in the appeal’s run-in. Mace Construction in Stratford gave toys and the money to Paula Blake. The team there Ellie Edgar,Thea Hitchcock and John O’Keefe handed over the cash raised in partnership with fellow building firm J Coffey Construction and charity the Careys Foundation.

Donations have still been coming in even this week. All the toys needed have been distributed and any last minute gifts from today will be used for the campaign next year.

Thank you to reporter Alex Shaw and Recorder news editor Sophie Morton, Editor Lorraine King and all the Recorder staff for their support.

The roll of honour is again a special one, and one which reveals why this campaign and at the heart of the community.

Appeal co-ordinator Kevin Jenkins thanked John Murphy – and Quattro Plant Hire – for loan of a warehouse as the co-ordinating centre for the appeal.

And the Deborah Day Theatre School Trust and Dance School – for the Christmas performance ‘A Christmas Cracker’ which raised  £1,750 for the appeal.

To John Pryke and the magificant bikers we say thanks again for your superb toy run, and thanks to the Global Radio Giving Tree at Bluewater. Newham Chamber of Commerce boosted the campaign with a toy collection and donation! Thanks also to Sir Robin Wales – Mayor of Newham, for his annual donation.

Kevin also asked me to thank myself – for raising cash via my sponsored swim, which added over £530 ( a little surreal!) and Mrs Rose Bennett – for knitted toys; David Pallash and Lego and John  O’Keeffe and Mace

All the individuals – many of whom are anon, who have dropped off gifts or contributed to a collection at the church, school or place of work, and all those who worked so hard at the appeal drop off points.

Said Kevin: “To all the individuals who dropped off gifts or gave a personal donation – thank you. Without the local community, there would not be an appeal.”

The roll of honour continues with the following thanks…

Toy Collections

St Bartholomew’s Church East Ham, Lend Lease Stratford E15, Valero, M+I Plc SW1, Close Brothers, Berwin Leighton Palmer Law EC4, Active Newham, St Angela’s Ursuline School, Aspers Casino, Fence Club, St Nicholas Church, Kelvedon Hatch, Mace, LIDA, Green Street Traders, Berkeley Group, St Georges Church East Ham E6,  Grants of Shoreditch, University of East London, Forest School Snaresbrook, All Saints Writtle, Josephine O Connor and Vinci Facilities, Network Rail Stratford, East London Business Alliance, Reed Smith EC2A 2RS, Freemantle Media, iiaa-NW2, Zurich Insurance EC3, Westfields – Stratford City, U+I – SW3, Lendlease, Newham Partnership Working, CVC Capital Partners, Investec, Janus Henderson Investors EC2, Chevron W1.

Donations (financial)

Newham Challenge Scheme, GRA Market Bucket Collection, Burberry, Accenture, Barclays, The Society of London Ragamuffins, Mace, Berkeley Group, Clapton United bucket collection £400 raised, Carey Civil Engineers, Severfield, Global Media – The Giving Tree Project Bluewater – tremendous support – Toy Donation (hundreds!), L+Q Housing, Galo Star Ltd, Lego, Royal Docks Trust, Aspers, Scrutton Estates, Byrne Construction, Pinnacle, Ladbrokes, IOD Skips, PLP Architecture, First Review, Cofey, Tate and Lyle Sugars, Kelt Bray, Upsdales, London Communications Agency.

Book Donations

Scholastic, Walkers, Usborne, Kingfisher and Pan Macmillan, Newham Bookshop

100 Club 

MPs Lyn Brown and Stephen Timms, Duthie Hart, and Bowling Law.

And thanks to Glyn Hopkin – for his continuing all round support for the appeal;

Finally, none of this would be possible without the two main people who devote their very existence to helping change and improve the lives of others, Kevin Jenkins and Paula Blake. They deserve the thanks and love of everyone in Newham.

Happy New Year to everyone from the bottom of our hearts. Thank you for helping bring tidings of comfort and joy.



+ Pictures: Top: The team from Mace hand over their donation

+ Centre: Pupils from Lister School, Plaistow. with their donations

+ Featured cover image: Warehouse owner  John Murphy and Paula

Pictures from Ken Mears, Newham Recorder

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