Colin Grainger

Simply the best Christmas present – and a real Olympic legacy

For virtually all my working life I have penned a plea to the community in East London to help with a very special appeal to spread come  much needed joy to under-privileged children.

And I am happy to report on this lovely morning that the appeal has reached its target of 15,000 toys – an incredible achievement.

It has taken much hard work from everyone involved in Links and also in the community in Newham. But it really does bring a smile to your face.

This year I made the request for help not from the columns of the paper that was part of my life for over 40 years but from my own website and  Facebook, Twitter and other social media.

And I am glad to say that a special kind of caring is still very much alive and well in East London. The kindness and generous shown has helped change the lives of some young ones who would otherwise have lost out.

The Community Links and Newham Recorder Christmas Toy Appeal is an appeal at the heart of all that is good in the community in East London.

The paper I edited for many years and Links joined up again for the campaign to reach out to thousands of vulnerable children, families and adults.

Christmas can be a time of stress and isolation. But Community Links looks to strengthen communities and raise aspirations at this time, making Christmas special and futures brighter.

Links is a truly remarkable organisation which does so much to enhance life in East London. I am honoured to be associated with it.

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 money and gifts raised have made a positive contribution to life in Newham for the 38th year in succession.

It has been my privilege to be part of this special appeal for many years and I will continue to support it. I did my usual 50 lengths sponsored swim and raised money, we staged a brilliant quiz night and Christmas meal.

But most important of all, the Christmas spirit shone brightly locally. The generous donations made have ensured there are presents for the children who need them the most.

Links and the Recorder have and will say their own special thank yous to some remarkable people.

But I would like to say a special thank you to Newham Bookshop and also to all the construction companies at the Olympic Stadium for supporting the Christmas Appeal and a special thank you to Mark Huggett for co-ordinating everything and to John Okeeffe and Amy Hall for helping with the deliveries, collections and shopping expeditions. And to Dennis Hone and everyone from the London Legacy Development Corporation, whose gifts really did make a difference.

They manage the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and at this time of year, they really have taken a giant step in becoming part of something that is very special in the Newham Community.

They helped the appeal at a time when it was thought it might be the first year we did not reach the target.

There was a lot of talk about the Olympic legacy when we were the centre of the world in 2012. I am sure no-one envisaged how this different kind of legacy would truly show how kindness and generosity and community spirit can come together.

Thank you 15,000 times over for helping the appeal reach its target.

God bless you all and there is no better way of showing that the Christmas spirit really is alive and well in our special part of the world.


 Pictured: The Toy Appeal 2013 launch with Suggs, thanks to Newham Bookshop. Community Links young helpers kick it off.toy appeal launch


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This article was written on 23 Dec 2013, and is filed under Christmas, Christmas Toy Appeal, Colin Grainger, Community Links, East London, Family, Newham, Olympics & Paralympics.

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