Magnificent response to festive appeals

Laura English with some of the items  for the troops
Laura English with some of the items for the troops

MERCURY readers have once again responded magnificently to a number of Christmas appeals across the area.

Every year, readers display their generosity and bring in gifts and donations for the good causes in Stamford, Rutland, Bourne and the Deepings.

A huge box was filled with gifts for the troops, including chocolates, magazines and toiletries.

The appeal was launched by Laura English, 28, of Banks Crescent, Stamford, to boost the morale of troops.

She was overwhelmed when she discovered how generous readers had been.

Laura said: “It’s really good, I wasn’t expecting that many donations.

“I’ve got lots of volunteers through the forces, lots of military wives who want to help with the packing.

“A business has even offered to write a personal message in each box.”

She launched the appeal because her fiance Richard Johnson is due to fly to Afghanistan in February with colleagues from RAF Wittering.

Richard said: “It’s good to know people back home are thinking of you. It’s a bit of a lift when you are constantly working. You can feel quite cut off.”

Former soldier Pat Graham, of Rowan Way, Bourne, has also been overwhelmed by donations after he took over the town’s shoebox appeal to send gifts to troops serving in Afghanistan.

He made up 22 parcels just from donations made by pupils and staff at the Willoughby School in South Road and gifts have continued to flock in since then.

Staff at the post office have been helping him to put the parcels together and allowing him to drop them off without queuing.

More than 50 gifts have been left at the Mercury office in Sheep Market, Stamford, for the Rotary Club of Stamford St Martin’s Christmas tag tree appeal, which asks for people to choose a tag from a tree displaying a child’s name and sex.

The presents will be given to children involved in Home-Start and Family Action in Peterborough, to children in hospital and other charities.

Rotarian George Hetherington said: “The response has been absolutely fantastic this year.

“We have collected lots of gifts from the Mercury office and Curves gym as well.

“There are some really big presents as well, which will just make such a big difference to the lives of children at Christmas.”

Mr Hetherington thanked everyone who had contributed a gift to the appeal.

He said: “For some children who get hardly anything at Christmas, this will make their day.”

The Rotary Club of Uppingham runs a similar scheme, which is supported by Market Place Dental Health Practice in Uppingham.

Dental nurse and receptionist Hayley Bull said 10 presents had been donated.

She said: “Home-Start has collected the presents to take to the children in time for Christmas. It has gone really well and we would like to say a big thank-you to everyone who has donated.”

Stamford Independent Travel in St Paul’s Street, Stamford, also aims to fill a suitcase for Santa, which goes to Home-Start.

Manager Emma Scott said: “The suitcase is full and we have had a lot of people come in bringing gifts.

“We have done it for the last three years and the response is always fantastic. We are already planning next year’s appeal.”

The gifts will be delivered in time for Christmas.

Sally Annes charity shop and Superdrug, both in West Street, Bourne, have also been collecting gifts for families in hardship over Christmas.

Bourne Corps secretary Charles Green said he was “amazed at the generosity” of people in the town.

Kevin O’Brien was also inundated with gifts for children after launching an appeal to help disadvantaged babies and teenagers.

And the Lions Club of Rutland also collected thousands of food items to help vulnerable people this Christmas.