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Shoppers and school children spread Christmas cheer with annual shoe box appeal

PUBLISHED: 11:27 25 November 2019 | UPDATED: 11:33 25 November 2019

Kayden, 7, Willow, 8, and Andre, 7, with some of the shoe boxes their fellow Cromer Junior School pupils filled with Christmas gifts and essentials for needy families.
Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Kayden, 7, Willow, 8, and Andre, 7, with some of the shoe boxes their fellow Cromer Junior School pupils filled with Christmas gifts and essentials for needy families. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

Archant

More than 250 shoe boxes filled with Christmas gifts and essentials, ranging from toothpaste to teddy bears, are on their way to needy families in Eastern Europe and beyond, thanks to the generosity of kind-hearted north Norfolk townsfolk.

School council members with (back, from left): Cromer Junior School deputy head teacher Suzanne Ashpole, Blythswood Care volunteers Diane Christie and Pat Porter, and Morrisons Cromer community champion Simon Clipsom.
Photo: KAREN BETHELLSchool council members with (back, from left): Cromer Junior School deputy head teacher Suzanne Ashpole, Blythswood Care volunteers Diane Christie and Pat Porter, and Morrisons Cromer community champion Simon Clipsom. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

The boxes were filled by Cromer shoppers, school children and church-goers as part of an annual appeal run by Christian charity Blythswood Care, which, as well as providing humanitarian aid and disaster relief in Europe, Asia and Africa, runs social projects in the UK and abroad and co-ordinates a string of food banks in the Scottish Highlands in partnership with the Trussell Trust.

The appeal, which was launched more than 25 years ago, sees communities all over the country fill more than 100,000 decorated cardboard boxes, which are given to hospitals, orphanages, schools and families in countries including Ukraine, Hungary, Albania, Moldova and Serbia.

Seven-year-old Andre, with one of the shoe boxes he and his fellow Cromer Junior School pupils filled with Christmas gifts and essentials for needy families.
Photo: KAREN BETHELLSeven-year-old Andre, with one of the shoe boxes he and his fellow Cromer Junior School pupils filled with Christmas gifts and essentials for needy families. Photo: KAREN BETHELL

In Cromer, Morrisons supermarket community champion Simon Clipsom co-ordinated a collection which saw primary school pupils and their families pack 25 boxes with hats, scarves, sweets, toys and toiletries, while parish church stalwarts Mike and Lynda Brown collected a hundred more filled by congregation members.

Mr Clipsom, who has helped with the appeal since 2015, said other local groups had bought 'fillers', with shoppers at the Cromer Road store donating enough cash to buy more than 100 tubes of toothpaste and Alison Ewbank, who owns Bond Street shoe shop Happy Feet, providing 100 empty boxes.

"We have had an absolutely wonderful response and have managed a total of over 250 boxes," he added. "I think the fact that the whole town comes together and gets involved is just fantastic."

Cromer Junior School deputy head Suzanne Ashpole, who helped school council members hand 25 filled boxes to Blythswood Care volunteers Diane Christie and Pat Porter ready to be delivered to the Blythswood Care sorting depot at Aylsham, said the school council had been keen to get involved.

She added: "All our children felt very strongly that they should support others who are less fortunate than themselves and we have seen lots of enthusiasm and some very carefully crafted shoe boxes."

To make a donation, or for information about volunteering, visit www.blythswoodcare.org

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