Colin Grainger

Launch of a vital appeal to ensure no child goes without this Christmas

It’s that time of year when those in the community in Newham and surrounding areas have a chance to prove how much they do care for those less fortunate than themselves.

The Community Links and Newham Recorder Christmas Toy Appeal has been part of my life for more than four decades. It officially launches in paper and online tomorrow.

The appeal is as vital today as it was all those years ago. Despite the prosperity of some, many people still live below the poverty line. And the special help YOU can give is vital. It is an appeal at the heart of all that is good in life.

Hundreds of celebrities have helped launch or have taken part in the campaign each year and even the Royal household back it with a donation. Businesses, organisations, pubs, clubs, groups all do their bit. Another remarkable fact is that those children who got joy from the campaign are now, as adults, among the volunteers who help spread a little happiness each Christmas to those who need it most. But it is the individuals who are so important, and reflect the spirit that exists in one of the most diverse communities.

The senior citizen who donates his or her pension, the talented makers of special gifts like teddies. The family on benefits who buy a small present. Newham Council also play an important role in the support they give and it really does your heart good to be part of something as special as this. There’s also our junior task force – the youngsters who help raise money and provide toys for children less fortunate than themselves.

The bigger companies and groups get workers and friends together to ensure no child is left out.

  • Bikers donating their gifts two years ago

I’ll be taking part in the sponsored swim I have managed to do for the last 41 years – swimming 50 lengths in this country – and another 50 in Argentina when I visit my son and his family.

You can sponsor me and add cash to the fund which we will be immediately translated into new toys.

  • My swim last year

Among other fund raising events is  The Community Links and Newham Recorder 41st Christmas Appeal – Annual Quiz Night will be held on Thursday December 6 at 7pm for 7.15pm start at Community Links, Canning Town. Details on 07860 487727 or by email contact Kevin Jenkins to book please. £75 for a table of eight people (or less if you want – the donation is the same). Bring your own food and drink. Email

The appeal is even more relevant than ever before. Back in the formative years, the feeling was that the number of needy youngsters was growing and getting the community to donate around 500 toys would provide a special treat. I was picked to lead the campaign for the paper.

I am honoured to have been a part of it as a young reporter at the Newham Recorder, then as chief reporter, news editor, assistant editor, deputy editor, Associate Editor and then Editor.

This special appeal soon captured the hearts of the community. The following year the target was 1,000 and as the years went by the need grew and last year it topped 18,000 toys.

  • Some of the toys we collected last year

The divide between the haves and have nots is wider in some parts of the borough than it has been before. And it is those who have been referred to benefit from our campaign that need this special kind of joy most – and who DO benefit.

I am honoured to now be a patron of the appeal and every year we urge everyone who can to give a toy because together we can fill those empty sacks and ensure that Christmas Day is a special for children who would otherwise go without.

This year the parties and trips for youngsters are being organised by the charity Ambition, Aspire, Achieve, which Kevin and Paula Blake founded two years ago.

I am honoured to be a trustee of the that organisation and it is providing vital care to underprivileged, disadvantaged and disabled young people.

Last year was almost the first time the Christmas Toy Appeal nearly did not reach our target.

Please do all you can to help ensure no child goes without this year



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This article was written on 13 Nov 2018, and is filed under Christmas, Christmas Toy Appeal, Community Links, community spirit, Newham Recorder.

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