Thanks to our first ever Christmas Toy Appeal our very own Andrew Baker together with supporters and campaign collaborents, Lee Crookand Paul Tucker spread joy to two of the hospital wards dressed as Santa and their little helper brightening up the stay of youngsters unfortunate enough to be spending the yuletide period in hospital.
Andrew, dressed as Elf, whilst Lee and Paul played Santas's literally as the big bearded guy, toured Robin's Ward (the children's specialist surgery ward) and Melanie's Ward (the adolescent unit) brimmed with sacks full of donated toys and gifts.
The appeal was part of the December campaign called 'Sleigh2Give'.
Thanks to so many kind-hearted supporters, some from as far afield as Banbury. 3 very full and heavy sacks and more, made up donations totalling a few hundred gifts, which was very gratefully received by the children and their siblings who received the toys including games, puzzles and soft teddies, and we were pleased to see some of the patients on Robin's Ward had been discharged from the hospital when we visited.
For Lee his visit to the children's hospital was even more admirable as Lee had completed an epic walk to the hospital at the John Radcliffe in 6 hours after setting off from Sainsbury's Didcot, where he works as nightshift worker, around 6.15am on the day, arriving at Chox at around 12.20pm after strolling through fields through the countryside to deliver the toys on time.
Lee who completed his sponsored walk whilst dressed as Santa in 29.35 miles has raised just under £400 - proceeds of which will be split between Play2Give for the Children's Hospital and the Sue Ryder Nettlebed Hospice - Sainsbury's Didcot's charity of the year.
For Andrew and Paul visiting the wards was an emotional rollercoaster, for Paul as his son Theo had been treated when he was younger on the Tom's Ward whilst for Andrew being on Robin's Ward giving out the gifts brought back the memories of spending time on the Leopold Ward at the Radcliffe Infirmary (now Robin's Ward) when he was in childhood after spending time on the former ward for major brain surgery, when aged 12.
Speaking to the Oxford Mail, Andrew said: "It was an amazing thing for Lee to do, this epic walk. It was a bit emotional walking around the children's hospital handing out presents.
"It really brought it home for me as I had brain surgery when I was 12, and some of the children were recovering from major brain surgery.
"It was tear-jerking but also uplifting. It was really awesome to spread Christmas cheer."
For Lee, he was inspired to carry out his latest fundraising escapade in the form of this gruelling 6-hour walk after the store chose Play2Give as its charity of the year in July, 2014. By July, 2015 the store in the Orchard Centre, Didcot, had raised its most record total for any supported local charity of the year by raising an overall £4,310 for Play2Give - which saw proceeds raised donated to the children's hospital, and the John Radcliffe Paediatric Eye Fund as well as brain injury charity, Headway Oxfordshire.
In November 2014, Lee forewent shaving for a month taking on 'Movember' which raised £116, in the February he walked 6 miles with a team of colleagues from the store from Didcot to Upton and back wearing his summer shirt and shorts on a bitterly cold Sunday, whilst over the course of 10 weeks in the summer he smashed over by taking on a 1000km sponsored walk, to obtaining a signed shirt from a squad of Reading FC Legends at a testimonial match played at Didcot Town FC's Loop Meadow ground, in May. In total, Lee has now raised over £1,115 for Play2Give and cancer research causes.