Stars of wonder in Kentish Times Toy Appeal

PUBLISHED: 10:34 23 December 2010

Toy handover Darenth Valley Panto cast and Bobby Davro with 7 yr old Alfie Byatt from Erith

Toy handover Darenth Valley Panto cast and Bobby Davro with 7 yr old Alfie Byatt from Erith


Our annual Times Toy Appeal has ensured hundreds of your gifts have been handed to children forced to spend the Christmas season in hospital.

The team of reporters from the Times visited the Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital, in Woolwich, Darent Valley Hospital, in Dartford, and the Princess Royal University Hospital, in Farnborough, to hand out gifts in time for Christmas.

The appeal, now in its fourth year, gathered support from celebrities including Peter Andre, Len Goodman, Melinda Messenger and hundreds of residents and businesses across Bexley.

Footballers from Charlton Athletic Football club visited Queen Elizabeth’s to show their support, and comedian Bobby Davro led the hand over at Darent Valley Hospital. Some of your gifts will also be given to Queen Mary’s Hospital in Sidcup although as previously reported in the Times the children’s ward is winding down this month due to cost cutting and patients are transferred to other hospitals in the area.

Seven-year-old Ava was at Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital after having a cyst removed from her leg.

Her mother Katie Sweeting, 41, of Old Farm Avenue, Sidcup, who has two other daughters, Lauren, four, and four-month-old Eslie, was visiting Ava whose leg has swollen since the operation.

She said: “She had the cyst for about six weeks. It is very stressful to have a child in hospital, especially when you have other children.

“I have had to bring in their grandfather in to stay with her as I have a young baby. The appeal is lovely. It brightens their day.”

Two-year-old Jessie Peacock, from Charlton, was in the children’s outpatient department. His mother Nicola Bird, 30, said: “It’s not good to be in hospital over Christmas but I’d say to anyone who is, keep your chin up.

“The way I see it is if you’re all together then it doesn’t matter where you are. The Toy Appeal is a fantastic idea.”

The Charlton players took time out from training to help hand over gifts, who were also at the hospital to donate their own toys to the children.

Centre midfielder Alan McCormack said: “It’s important to show the kids that they have support. We get a lot of kids coming down to see the games so we want to show that we care, especially at Christmas.”

Catering assistant Sarah Truscott, 35, of Troughton Road, Charlton, said: “My son Sam has had the sickness bug and has been totally knocked out but he’s a massive Charlton fan so this is a total surprise.

“It’s brilliant. This is the first time I’ve seen him smile since Sunday.”

At Princess Royal University Hospital children gathered in the play room on the Children’s Ward to receive the gifts, and at Darent Valley Hospital, our Santa and comedian Bobby Davro, who is performing in Jack and Beanstalk at the Orchard Theatre in Dartford, met children and spread the Christmas cheer.

Louise Byatt, from Erith, was with her son Alfie, seven, as they waited to hear from doctors at Darent Valley if he needed further treatment to a scratch which had become infected.

The seven-year-old was delighted to receive a visit and a ‘Who’s Who’ game by his special visitors.

Mrs Byatt said: “It was really great for him to met Santa and the other guests. We are really grateful for the present, the appeal seems a great success. It is really good to see all the stars in their costumes, it may be starting to feel like Christmas.”

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