A motorbike-riding Santa and his friendly helpers visited the John Radcliffe on Sunday (9 December) to deliver the toys from this year’s Christmas collection. The Toy Run, organised by the Gainsborough Residents Association, took the generous donations of Henley shoppers to young patients at the hospital, bringing some Christmas cheer and kindness with them, too.
The Santa Toy Run began five years ago, having been started by David Eggleton and Paula Isaac of the Gainsborough Residents Association. After seeing how much it meant to the children at the John Radcliffe, they decided to make it an annual occasion, and the Toy Run has grown each year since.
Local shops supported the event by setting up collection points in store, encouraging customers to buy and donate toys and gifts. This year, Bagatelle Toys, Superdrug, Boots, and Tesco all took part, with Tesco getting involved for a third year running.
The Toy Run convoy – 14 people in 3 cars, and Father Christmas on a motorbike – left the Town Hall at 10am on Sunday to visit the John Radcliffe hospital. Greeted by nurses and children from the wards, the group was shown around the hospital before handing out the gifts. The sacks of presents were hugely appreciated by the children they were given to, who ranged in age from newborns to 16 year olds. The nurses, who helped to distribute the presents, were also tremendously grateful for the chocolates and biscuits they received.
David Eggleton reflected, “This is very close to my heart because I’ve done lots of different types of runs to different organisations, children’s hospitals, and all sorts, but we actually go there and take stuff to the actual child. You see where the stuff’s come from, but also you’re actually delivering it to the child. And I don’t think it’s the presents which makes them overwhelmed; I think it’s someone actually thinking about them at Christmas.”
He said, “I get quite emotional. It’s important to me because I’ve got children and we go about our busy lives, but until you’ve actually been there you don’t know what’s going on. To go there, you get an understanding of what the nurses and the children go through every year, and throughout the year, not just at Christmas. It’s very emotional, and we just encourage people to keep supporting us every year. We’re trying to make it bigger and bigger, because it’s so appreciated and well deserved.”
David, Paula and the Gainsborough Residents Association would like to thank the Toy Run sponsors: Bagatelle Toys, Superdrug, Boots, Irenna Bailey from Community Spirit and Tesco, along with everybody who has donated a gift or offered their support in making the Toy Run happen.