Father Christmas and his support team delivered some Christmas cheer to Oxford Children’s Hospital on Saturday with the return of the Henley Toy Run. Though it may have been too wet for his usual motorbike, the weekend’s dreary weather could not stop Santa from delivering three cars’ worth of toys to the hospital, sparking joy and smiles aplenty amongst the children he visited.
The Toy Run, organised by David Eggleton and Paula Isaac of the Gainsborough Residents Association, began in 2014 when the pair took a number of donated toys to the young patients at the Oxford Children’s Hospital. Inspired by the impact of the first run, Dave and Paula decided to make it an annual Christmas occurrence, each year collecting donated toys from Henley residents at designated points in town.
This year was as successful ever, with donation stations at Tesco and the Town Hall gathering piles of presents to fill Santa’s sack. Tesco themselves, as well as Bagatelle Toys and Boots, also donated gifts to the cause, alongside the many generous Henley people who contributed. Three cars left Henley Town Centre at 9:15am on Saturday morning brimming with toys, bound for the children at the Oxford Children’s Hospital. David Eggleton, dressed as Father Christmas, was unfortunately unable to travel by motorbike this year (as has become Toy Run tradition) due to the rain, but both presents and Santa made it to their destination safe and dry.
The Toy Run convoy of Dave Eggleton, Paula Isaac, Daisy Eggleton, Rob Isaac, Jamie Isaac and Sarah Cronin were greeted by off-duty staff members at the Oxford Children’s Hospital. They then proceeded around the wards distributing presents and Christmas cheer, meeting children as old as 15 years and as young as 6 months.
David Eggleton said, “It’s always emotional, especially when you’re seeing poorly children and some of them are away from their parents over that period. There was one child who’d just had a visit from the doctor who was quite upset. I don’t know what had happened, but I poked my head around the door, and the first word he said was Santa and then his face lit up. That was one of the emotional ones. We gave him a few gifts and he was sorted, went away smiling. Another young lady wanted a picture of me as Santa holding her baby. She was quite emotional as it was her baby’s first Christmas. She was about 6 months old — she wasn’t very big.”
Dave continued, “Coming out of there, from seeing a few happy faces to seeing them all smiling is what we go there for. Also to give presents as well. It’s about thinking about other people this time of year, and not just the people in hospital. It’s people who are not so well off or elderly or vulnerable. It’s a little kind gesture that makes a lot of difference.”
Paula Isaac expressed her gratitude to the Henley community, stating, “We had 3 cars full of donations from the generous public of Henley who we would like to thank enormously for their generosity. We would like to extend our thanks to Tesco in Henley for collecting donations for us in store and the staff at Henley Town Council for collecting also. As well as toys and gifts for the children, we also received donations of chocolates and biscuits for the wonderful nurses who work in the hospital for which they were extremely grateful. This event is lovely and we would like to continue to hold it each year hopefully with support from local businesses and volunteers.”
David added, “I’d urge anybody that wants to support us next year, either have a collection box or donate at one of the designated collection points in Henley, which will probably be Tesco and the Town Hall and hopefully somewhere else.”
If you would like to get involved with the Toy Run next year and help to spread some kindness at Christmas, please contact David Eggleton on 07836202508.