Fantastic response to gifts appeal

CELIA WIGG An appeal to replace stolen Christmas presents destined for a Norfolk children's hospice has touched the hearts of people across the county. The gifts were taken from the back of car before they could be delivered to Quidenham Children's Hospice, which provides specialist care to young patients with life-threatening or life-limiting conditions.

CELIA WIGG

An appeal to replace stolen Christmas presents destined for a Norfolk children's hospice has touched the hearts of people across the county.

The gifts were taken from the back of car before they could be delivered to Quidenham Children's Hospice, which provides specialist care to young patients with life-threatening or life-limiting conditions.

Funeral director Phil Barrow, whose premises are at nearby Attleborough, could not believe anyone could be so mean and

launched an appeal, publicised in the EDP, as soon as he heard about the crime.

He works for undertakers R J Bartram and Son, which supports the hospice by holding fundraising events, and the firm was soon knee-deep in presents.

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And yesterday Mr Barrow and colleagues Debbie Banham and Lesley Loades arrived at Quidenham accompanied by Father Christmas and a sleigh brimming with colourful packages to bring joy to its young patients.

“The response has been absolutely fantastic, far greater than we ever expected. It just goes to show people's generosity. We have getting on for 150 presents and cash donations, and have given the hospice £300 as well,” he said.

“Let's just hope these thieves see the picture in the paper and get a gift of a bigger conscience.”

Last week the company arranged for some of the children to travel in a stretch limousine to visit Santa at Jarrolds in Norwich as an extra treat.

“Jarrolds were really great and they donated presents as well,” added Mr Bartram.

Hannah Brown, corporate fundraiser for East Anglia's Children's Hospices, said there had been such an excellent response that they were planning to give some of the gifts to children in the community who receive specialist care from Quidenham nurses and to youngsters at the charity's centres at Ipswich, and Milton in Cambridgeshire.

“Phil and his team have been absolutely superb and we really appreciate what they have done. The support of local people is invaluable to the hospice, and Bartram's are a fantastic example. Their hearts are really in it,” she said.

Mr Barrow asked people wishing to donate presents, to take them to firm's branches at Attleborough, Wymondham, and Dereham, or to Breckland Funeral Services in Watton.