Gift appeal will bring joy this Christmas morning

Jeanette Walsh as Mother Christmas with the toys donated by readers of the Northants Telegraph

Jeanette Walsh as Mother Christmas with the toys donated by readers of the Northants Telegraph

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This bumper haul of toys will be brightening up the festive season for less fortunate families across our area on Christmas Day.

Hundreds of toys were donated to our annual appeal which will be distributed to children by Northamptonshire County council’s children’s services team.

Staff sort through the toys

Staff sort through the toys

The toys were collected at the William Knibb Centre where appeal organiser Jeanette Walsh, also known as Mother Christmas, said she was once again overwhelmed by the response from Telegraph readers.

She said: “I am again astonished as to how much we have received from people.

It is not only the amount of items we receive, it is the quality of the toys that people buy for the appeal.

“Every year I am a little bit worried that it won’t be as successful as the year before, but every year I am overwhelmed by the response.”

I am again astonished as to how much we have received from people.

Jeanette Walsh

The toys have been distributed to children in Kettering, Corby, Wellingborough and Rushden.

This year, people were able to donate gifts at the Telegraph offices in Rothwell Road, Kettering, the Corby Cube and Wellingborough Museum.

Jeanette said she was inspired to begin the Christmas appeal in 2002 because of her own experience as a child in care.

She said: “I am one of 11 children, six of us went into care.

Staff sort through the toys

Staff sort through the toys

“I had been abused as a child. I was so happy to be in a safe and happy place, I thrived in care so much so I decided that I wanted to help children like myself who had come from deprived backgrounds.

“I worked in a children’s home in Manchester before meeting my husband in Spain. He lived in Northampton so when we got married I moved. I got a job at the county council in 1985.

“I had various roles working with lots of different teams across the county.”

Jeanette has now retired after 29 years and has twice received treatment for brain tumours.

She added: “After retiring I wanted to carry on the role of Mother Christmas, which is my passion, because when I was in care people bothered to give me a gift.”

Telegraph editor David Summers said he was delighted with the response from Telegraph readers to the appeal.

He added: “This year’s donations really go to show how generous the people of north Northamptonshire are.

“These toys will go a long way to brighten up Christmas morning for less fortunate children.”

The Telegraph would once again like to thank Corby Council and Wellingborough Museum for agreeing to act as collection points, as well as toy manufacturer Sphero for donating a toy BB8 robot from the new Star Wars film.