Mayors give their thanks for years of service from Toy Appeal head

THANK YOU Outgoing organiser Karen Collins (centre) with (left to right) Julia Soyke, James Scholes, Chris Woodward, and current Mayor Cllr Godfrey Bland

CURRENT and former mayors united last week to thank the outgoing organiser of the Mayor’s Toy Appeal, which collects gifts for children who may not otherwise have anything for Christmas.

The Mayor of Tunbridge Wells, Cllr Godfrey Bland, joined with former mayors Chris Woodward, James Scholes and Julia Soyke in a ceremony at the Town Hall, marking Karen Collins’ seven years of service.

Thanking the former mayors for her bouquet and engraved medal, Karen said: “Now it is over to Trevor Crawford, who has taken over from me and we wish him all the best for the future.”

Trevor, who was also present at the ceremony, along with many of the toy appeal volunteers, added his own thanks, saying: “It was all very well deserved after her seven years. Hers are really big shoes to fill.”

The Mayor’s Toy Appeal provided presents for a record 680 children last Christmas, up from the previous high of 560 in 2021.

Families are referred by various agencies and the organisers allocate presents donated by retailers and the public. They also use financial donations to buy treats and gifts for children up to 18 years old.

“They are still very young and deserve a magical Christmas like everyone else,” said Trevor.

“We suspect that in 2023 there will be more [referrals] than last year. It is great that we were able to help but, equally, terrible that so many children were in need,” he added.

“We are of course always happy to talk to new potential volunteers who would like to join us.

“Christmas 2023 seems a long way off, but we have already started to prepare with the help of the Mayor’s office.”

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