Colin Grainger

Help us spread Christmas joy to those who need it most

Since I wrote about the difficult times communities have faced 12 months ago, there have been some reasons to be cheerful but many to give us the view of continuing challenging times.

Just when the grip of the pandemic was starting to ease, we’ve had the fuel crisis, food shortages and now energy costs are cutting into the very heart of life.

The new UELZ charge is hitting those trying to earn a living locally. The removal Universal Credit has left families struggling. There’s a choice for many of feeding the family or paying for power. Many families through no fault of their own are being pushed back into poverty, here are some tips to be more productive during this season.

As a result, the Newham Christmas Toy Appeal, a massive big part of local life for 44 consecutive years is needed more than ever before.

Last year, in the middle of the COVID pandemic, charity Ambition, Aspire, Achieve (AAA) helped more children – 3,000 – and their families, than ever before. And we know from referrals already made before we have launched the campaign that the demand in the coming weeks will be exceeded.

Earlier this year, we lost the founder of our campaign and our charity, Kevin Jenkins. We have renamed the appeal in his memory.

  • Kevin Jenkins

It is now the Kevin Jenkins OBE Newham Christmas Toy Appeal.

We are praying that the campaign that is right at the heart of life in gets your support in the hardest of years.

AAA’s Chief Executive Jonny Boux explains the reason trustees and everyone connected with AAA voted wanted to rename the appeal.

“We are proud to launch the Kevin Jenkins OBE Newham Christmas Toy Appeal, honouring the legacy and tremendous contribution made by the appeal’s founder.

“This year has continued to create many challenges for us all, with the continued pandemic and fallout creating even greater hardship for many. But it is the children and families most in need that have been particularly affected, pushed deeper into poverty through no fault of their own.

“Every year we reach out to partners, both in the corporate world and wider community to ask for support. We encourage all to be involved and no level of support is too small. It is only with the help of others that we can ensure no child referred to the appeal this year wakes up to an empty stocking on this special day for all children.”

Over the coming weeks, Ambition, Aspire, Achieve are organising the appeal in conjunction with the Newham Recorder, and supported by Community Links, combining again for the campaign to reach out to thousands of vulnerable children,

Comedians Ricky Grover and Quincy The Comedan launched the appeal with some of Santa’s helpers this week.

Both pals, who went to the same school, grew up in our manor in Canning Town and understand how vital the campaign is to children who would otherwise go without.

They are both now established actors and writers as well and were joined by two of the charity’s Santa’s Helpers team, to show off some gifts the campaign received on the eve of the launch.

The appeal is by AAA launched in partnership with the Newham Recorder and Community Links and is as important now as when it first became part of local life. It helped more children and their families than ever before last year.

Said Ricky, who is also a patron of AAA: “Since the tragic death of the appeal’s founder earlier this year, it is vital we all pull together to ensure this year campaign is a success. I know staff and volunteers will be working flat out but we need the public in Newham to step up and give what they can.”

Quincy said: “Any new toy or donation will help the appeal reach its target. Please give whatever you can.”

Apart from their stand-up shows, both friends are very busy. Ricky has been filming the new Ricky Gervais series of After Life and with his project, part of which is Bulla TV.

Quincy has his own show on Supreme FM and his comedy shows on You Tube.


  • Ricky and Quincy launch this year’s appeal with two of Santa’s helpers 

Added Ricky: “I believe in all the work that AAA does and its lasting effects on young people. The toy appeal has been so important for so many years. Let’s do this people!”

We have got to do that to ensure that no child is left out this Christmas.

Paula Blake, Toy Appeal organiser said: “Christmas can be a time of stress and isolation as many of our children are still living in poverty. But this appeal looks to strengthen communities and raise aspirations at this time, making Christmas special and futures brighter.

“Each family we help do not receive any extra money to help them through Christmas. Once again we are asking for your help.”

Paula added: “The hardships caused to so many has sadly reduced the number of individuals and businesses who are able to support us. People who we help do not get any extra money to help them provide the gifts and seasonal foods that so many of us are lucky to take for granted. We are aiming to provide a Christmas stocking of new gifts appropriate to each child’s age, abilities, needs and if, possible, their most wished gift to open on Christmas Day.”

Every year in the past Kevin always highlighted the challenges faced by those we seek to help. Poor or temporary accommodation, food hunger, poor wellbeing, emotional needs, disability and additional needs, being victims of personal abuse or violence. That message remains the same.

For people wishing to chose a gift or gifts, to purchase for a young person this Christmas, an Amazon Wish List has been set up.

This feature has a selection of items ranging from toys, hats, CDs and books to headphones, watches, teddies and much more that the appeal organisers know would be suitable for those receiving presents, and provide an easy way to buy and donate directly.

To view the Wish List, visit  Amazon at:

Donations can be made in person at the Terence Brown Arc In The Park, in Bethell Avenue, Canning Town,

An online Just Giving fundraising page has also been set up, and all money donated will be spent on buying presents for Newham’s most underprivileged children in advance of Christmas Day.

To donate, visit,


I’m diving in to raise funds for the Christmas Toy Appeal next month.

I’m bidding to complete a 50-length sponsored swim for the campaign. It’s the 44th year in a row that he has taken the plunge.

It’s getting harder every year as the years go on but it’s for a cause I believe in and am sure I can do it. As a former Recorder Editor, and a patron of the Kevin Jenkins OBE Newham Toy Appeal, and a trustee of Ambition, Aspire, Achieve, it’s really in my blood.

  • Come on grandad, you can do it!

  • In training this week: Thanks to Molly at the Sapphire for making me look a few pounds lighter!

I’m adding more lengths to my training schedule each week. And last week I was joined by granddaughter Laura, who is seven next week. Their training efforts were captured by Laura’s dad, Adam, with a special underwater camera.

If you would like to contribute to my Just Giving Page to raise funds for the appeal, please go to this link:


Details on how you can support the campaign in general will be in the Recorder every week and on their website


Kindhearted motorcyclists will make their usual brilliant Christmas Toy Run next month to provide much needed new toys for the appeal.

It’s been an annual for the Newham campaign for many years now – and the bikes also do a carbon copy run at Easter every year to provide Easter Eggs for youngsters.

Organiser John Pryke  explained that the bikers will start off their run at Triumph East London headquarters in London Road, Romford, at midday on Saturday December 4.

“We are proud once again to come together for the appeal run by Ambition, Aspire, Achieve in aid of children in East London. It’s an event we enjoy tremendously and we have always been inspired by the work of Kevin Jenkins, Paula Blake, and everyone connected with the campaign.”

This year John and the other groups of bikers and their friends have faced a little obstacle, like many of us, with the creation of the ULEZ, which forces those with older bikes and cars to pay £12.50 to come into Newham.

“What we will do is once we have collected toys is meet up at the Waterworks Corner Roundabout and those with non-compliant motorcyles will transfer them to those who can ride into Newham.”

The riders will then make their way to the Terence Brown Arc in the Park in Canning Town to hand over their gifts.

More details from John on 07789 881913.

We know individuals and businesses and community groups have supported us in previous years. We hope they can find it in their hearts to do so again.

There will be one major drop off where you can leave new toys.

Individuals can leave items at the Terence Brown Arc in the Park, off Hermit Road, Canning Town, from today (Wednesday November 10)

If you can help us ensure 2021 spreads some joy , it would be just fantastic.

Together we can do this – yet again.


Pictures: Paula Blake, AAA, Colin Grainger, Adam Toon.

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