Pair receive 'tremendous' support for festive toy appeal

Wisbech Christmas Toy Appeal smashes target

Paul Albutt (left) and Annie Woods are on course to provide new toys to around 400 children this Christmas thanks to their toy appeal. - Credit: Ian Carter

The organisers of a toy appeal aimed to help Fenland’s most disadvantaged and vulnerable children at Christmas said they could not be more grateful for the help they have received. 

Paul Albutt and Annie Woods launched the Wisbech Toy Appeal last year to provide some festive cheer for children in the town and surrounding areas who may not receive many gifts from Father Christmas. 

The pair usually hold a bingo fundraising event at Wisbech St Mary’s sports and community centre for the appeal, but due to Covid-19 restrictions, they have had to change their ways. 

“We’ve had to do things differently because we can’t hold a bingo because of the Covid situation,” Paul said. 

“We decided to get people donating new toys and we will see what we get. I approached Argos and Tesco in Wisbech and both have put up a giving tree where people take tags off, buy a gift and put it into the trolley provided.” 

Wisbech Christmas Toy Appeal smashes target

Paul Albutt and Annie Woods hope to provide enough toys for around 400 children in Wisbech and surrounding areas this Christmas. - Credit: Ian Carter

Since launching this year’s appeal last month, Paul and Annie have seen demand soar and are on course to provide new toys to around 400 children. 

They have also given support to schools and organisations, such as Simon Crowson of 50 Backpacks, which delivered food parcels to the elderly and vulnerable earlier in the pandemic. 

Most Read

“I approached all the local schools because there are people in those schools who know families that need help,” Paul said. 

“We set up a Facebook page and other social media pages; people have reacted and the generosity has been tremendous.” 

Every toy donated needs to be new so that children can open a gift like any other present from Father Christmas, and the number of donations has increased since November. 

As well as this, the amount of positive reaction that Paul and Annie have received has exceeded all expectations.

“Did we expect a massive reaction? No. It’s to say thanks to the people of Wisbech and surrounding areas for donating in such numbers,” he added. 

“What we set out to achieve was to try and make a few kids happy that may not receive much else. 

“We wanted to try and make a difference as there is a need, and people have been absolutely magnificent with donations to us.”