Gift appeal tops £10,000 as Mother Christmas sparkles on One Show appearance

Jeanette spoke to presenter Alex Jones about the gift appeal
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Thanks to the amazing generosity of the readers of the Northants Telegraph and Chronicle & Echo more than £10,000 has been raised to give Northamptonshire's youngsters a very merry Christmas.

To support Jeanette Walsh, aka Mother Christmas, who has been co-ordinating the drive for 18 years, 2020's annual toy appeal moved online to help the most disadvantaged children across the county.

The total was given a boost after Jeanette was thanked in front of millions of viewers on TV for her incredible work, chatting to BBC TV's One Show presenter Alex Jones via Zoom in a pre-recorded interview.

Surrounded by some of the thousands of gifts bought with the money donated by kind-hearted supporters, Jeanette told Alex about her life-long dedication to children and why she was so it was so important to help children in the most need.

Jeanette said: "It was nerve wracking but it was brilliant to be able to highlight the generosity of the people in Northamptonshire - It's important to give local to local children.

"I'd like to thank everyone who has donated even just one pound to the appeal. To put the smile on one child's face means the world. When you have nothing even something small means so much."

Appearing alongside superstar singers Robbie Williams and Jamie Cullum, presenters Alex Jones and Alex Scott, Jeanette shared her story with the nation.

Jeanette ready to chat to Alex JonesJeanette ready to chat to Alex Jones
Jeanette ready to chat to Alex Jones

Alex Jones said: "We've loved hearing everything that you have been doing over the last 18 years. We're focusing on toy banks this year because we think it's so important."

Jeanette told Alex about her life growing up in a children's home and her work as a social worker and how much receiving a brand new Christmas present meant to her.

Hearing Jeanette's story, Alex was wowed to find out that she has helped more than 5,000 children, every year since 2002 - bringing Christmas joy to a total of 90,000 young people.

Working in partnership with The Faraway Children's Charity the Just Giving site has had donations from individuals, families and companies.

Jeanette and Alex (inset)Jeanette and Alex (inset)
Jeanette and Alex (inset)

Messages of support on the site include Sandra Jordan wrote: "Hi Jeanette, thank you for the wonderful effort you put in year after year. You are a star x."

Janet Turner said: "What a wonderful charity and thank you to Jeanette for all your fantastic work."

The Carter family said: "Merry Christmas to all involved and hopefully this will bring a little smile to someone face this Christmas xx"

Dick from Kettering said: "It's always good to think of children and young adults who might get forgotten at Christmas. If we all share just a little, we can spread a lot of joy!"

West Haddon pupils on their way to Lapland.West Haddon pupils on their way to Lapland.
West Haddon pupils on their way to Lapland.

The total, currently standing at £8,602 with £1,637.50 Gift Aid, will be boosted by another £1,784 from West Haddon Primary School's virtual trek to Lapland. It's an amount that may grow further as the intrepid pupils carry on towards the North Pole.

Local MPs have also voiced their support for the appeal. Michael Ellis, MP for Northampton North, said: “I am delighted to support Faraway Children’s Charity’s toy appeal alongside the Northampton Chronicle and Echo and Northants Telegraph.

"The money from this appeal will be used to buy Christmas presents for children in need, looked-after children and disadvantaged families in our county.

"It is more important than ever this year to provide this support in what has been a difficult year, and it is heart-warming to know how well-received these toys will be- so please donate and spread the word.”

MP for Corby and East Northants Tom Pursglove said: “I was so pleased to hear that, despite the pandemic, the Northants Telegraph have not been deterred from running the annual Christmas Toy Appeal.

"Like every year in our incredible community, the Christmas spirit of generosity is alive and well for all to see, so if you are in a position to support the appeal, I know it will be greatly appreciated and make a huge difference to some of the most vulnerable children in our area, with that little bit extra this Christmas.

You can catch up with Jeanette's One Show appearance on the BBC iPlayerYou can catch up with Jeanette's One Show appearance on the BBC iPlayer
You can catch up with Jeanette's One Show appearance on the BBC iPlayer

"I pay tribute to the Northants Telegraph and The Faraway Children's Charity for making it happen.”

You can donate to the annual toy appeal by clicking here.

Watch Jeanette on the BBC One Show by clicking here.