The Harry Johnson Trust, founded by Sally and her husband Stephen following the death of their son in 2014, will be among the beneficiaries of this year's Shropshire Star Christmas Toy Appeal.
Joining for the first time with Shropshire brewery Joule's, we're appealing for our generous band of readers to make a difference to children across the region who might be facing difficulties this Christmas.
As well as The Harry Johnson Trust, our appeal will also benefit the children's ward at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals Trust, Telford Young Carers and The Movement Centre which provided specialist therapy for children with mobility problems.
Since the appeal was first launched in 2015, Shropshire Star readers have donated more than 5,000 toys and gifts to charities and organisations which work with children.
Of these, something like 1,000 have gone to The Harry Johnson Trust, bringing much joy to children who are being treated for cancer at the oncology unit at Shrewsbury's Princess Royal Hospital.
Sally says it is often very difficult for the parents of children with cancer to give their children treats at Christmas, as one of them will usually have to give up work.
She urges people to give generously, saying gifts for teenagers are particularly welcome.
“I think teenagers are always hard, people don’t know what to get for them,” she says.
“Teenage girls particularly like pampering products, while teenage boys like construction sets, Airfix kits and things like that.”
The trust, which this month celebrates its eighth birthday, was founded after Harry died in July, 2014, from a rare form of cancer at the age of seven.
It provides small treats for youngsters, be it trips to the cinema or short-break holidays.
Each youngster arriving at the children’s oncology ward at the Princess Royal Hospital is presented with a "Harry’s Hamper" containing welcome necessities containing items such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, a flannel, biscuits a notebook and pencils or pens.
Each family also receives a gift card for the hospital cafe so they can buy snacks and refreshments.
The trust also donated books, games, toys and equipment for the ward.
“We support children whenever and however possible, and so we grant ‘wishes’ as requested by staff at the hospital for individual children when we can.”
Another aspect of the charity’s work is Harry’s Holidays, where the charity arranges free holidays within Shropshire for children who have been having a difficult time during treatment, or have been diagnosed as with a terminal condition.
“We wanted to take Harry away on a holiday, do day trips, visit places, we wanted to do so much,” she says. “But for a lot of children suffering from cancer, it is difficult for them to go away because they cannot be far from the hospital.
“Families still want to spend lots of time together, but don’t want to go far away. Harry’s Holidays allows them to do that, to have a break and do the normal things that families do together. It allows them to forget about their condition for a bit, without leaving Shropshire.”
Our toy appeal is for brand new toys, games or other gifts suitable for children and teenagers. We have teamed up with Joule's brewery, which has helped arranged for four of its pubs to act as collection points. Alternatively, gifts can be dropped off at the Shropshire Star office at Grosvenor House, close to Telford railway station and opposite Aldi in Hollinswood Road, Telford CVS at Hazeldine House in Telford town centre.
If you are a business able to either donate to the toy appeal or provide a collection point, please telephone us on 01952 241491.
For details on The Harry Johnson Trust see the website theharryjohnsontrust.co.uk.
Brand new toys and gifts can be handed over at any of the following collection points:
Shropshire Star, Grosvenor House, Central Park, Hollinswood Road, Telford, TF2 9TW
Telford & Wrekin CVS, Hazeldine House, Central Square, Telford TF3 4JL
The White Horse, 7, Wenlock Rd, Shrewsbury, SY2 6JJ
The Red Lion, Great Hales Street, Market Drayton, TF9 1JP
King’s Arms, 53, High Street, Church Stretton, SY6 6BY
The Crown Wharf, Crown Street, Stone, ST15 8QN