Christmas Day message...a remarkable family and a special story

IT has been one of the toughest years of our lives, but today we draw breath and settle down to enjoy Christmas Day.

IT has been one of the toughest years of our lives, but today we draw breath and settle down to enjoy Christmas Day.

And for those of you who are supporting your local paper via the web on this special day , I would like to tell you a remarkable story.

It sums up how proud we feel as a newspaper in having worked with a simply fantastic group of people to achieve the target for our Christmas Toy Appeal.

And it shows how wonderful the Community Links and Newham Recorder Christmas Toy Appeal is.


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Vanessa Brennan and her mother and nan stepped into Links to illustrate how generations of families support the campaign that is at the very heart of life in Newham.

Vanessa, now 36, has been giving to the appeal for 20 years, Her devotion started when she managed to get a work placement with Links over 20 years ago.

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She heard about the Toy Appeal and realised how important it was to life in our borough. “I then became a volunteer for a few years. My nan buys annuals for children throughout the year, she just loves doing it and my mum buys presents virtually every week of the year. She ends up with four of five sackloads. I do the same. Its like Christmas every week!”

Mother Sue Brazil, and nan Dorothy Higgs, 74, live in East Ham. Vanessa now lies in Chadwell Heath.

The family handed over their gifts just at the point we all felt we might not meet the deadline. But thanks to their gifts and those from pensioners who saved up some of their pension, to paper boys who saved up their wages for a year, and the companies who felt they could still give, we managed to meet our incredible target of 13,500 toys.

It is simply remarkable, and shows how special the community that we live and work in, still is.

“It is such a tremendous achievement. We are so grateful to families like Vanessa’s,” said Kevin Jenkins from Links.

I am so proud that this paper and Community Links have made life special for generations of young people for the last 34 years. Thank you all so much for your support.

The full story is in the next Recorder, out next week, but I wanted to share it some of it with you today.

Thank you for your support throughout the year and I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.- COLIN GRAINGER, Newham Recorder Editor.

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