New Journal Santas deliver festive goodies across borough – all thanks to readers’ generosity
IT is the most heart-warming story we have printed this decade – and thanks to the generosity of our readers we have been able to publish it again and again and again.
Every year, the way people of Camden dig deep to help those less fortunate at Christmas is an inspiration to anybody working at the New Journal and those who read it each week.
This year, there was an amazing response to our appeals for help in sending out special hampers to the borough’s most deserving residents. Pubs held special quiz nights, children sent in their pocket money, politicians sent in cheques and a Hollywood actor with a home in Hampstead even chipped in. The A-list star asked not to be named but we’d like to say thank you for his and his partner’s help.
Some of the recipients of hampers were without a roof over their heads, others were single-parent families who can find the Christmas season so expensive and stressful. The elderly – so many of whom feel isolated and alone at this time of year – were also happy recipients.
In the final days before Christmas, we made two delivery runs with a Father Christmas, who looked suspiciously like Ossie Mehmet from the barber shop in Parkway, and then a Santa Claus who resembled Dublin Castle publican Henry Conlon. Understandably, some of those who collected hampers did not want to be photographed for the newspaper but we witnessed a few tears of happiness as they were delivered.
Magical moments made possible by the public.
Alf Ledwith, 90, of Fitzroy Road, in Primrose Hill, received a hamper last Tuesday.
“I sent a cheque to the Hamper Appeal last year,” said the retired Port of London Authority worker. “So it’s very nice to be thought of myself this time around.”
Our Santas also visited the Gospel Oak Nursery Centre and the Highgate Newtown Community Centre finding deserving recipients at each.
They also teamed up with homeless support teams, including staff from the charity Broadway, based in Pratt Mews.
Scott Haines, who has been without a home since he was 17, said: “It gives us that extra bit of food when all the shops are closed and it’s a good feeling to get that extra bit of support.”
Soldier fights hunger!
OUR Christmas Hamper Appeal was a grand success this year – thanks to our kind-hearted readers.
We raised enough money to send out seasonal cheer to hundreds of people – and even found we had some left over to help with pensioners’ luncheon clubs.
This year we sourced our hampers from an independent shop instead of one of the larger supermarkets – and judging by the smiles our Father Christmas got as he delivered them, they were the perfect surprise.
Lee Smith set up Truffles Deli in York Rise, Dartmouth Park, last year. But he hasn’t always been in the food trade – he is a former soldier, whose duties included looking after the Queen’s horses and driving carriages for Her Majesty.
The former Brookfield and Acland Burghley schoolboy joined the Household Cavalry aged 17. He told the New Journal he had always wanted to be a member of the Buckingham Palace guards since he was a youngster.
He said: “My Nan used to take me down there to watch the changing of the guard as a little boy and I always had an ambition to be a member of the regiment.”
In 2000, Lee moved over to the Queen’s personal stables, looking after her horses and learning how to drive the carriages for the Royal Family. And he had lessons from a rather well-known member of the Windsors.
He said: “The Duke of Edinburgh would give us lessons in driving carriages. He is an amazing horseman.”
Lee eventually left to set up Truffles.
“If you have ever eaten army food, you especially appreciate good grub when you see it. I was very happy to help out with the hampers,” he added.
A thank you to everybody who made a donation to this year’s Hamper Appeal:
La Freniere and P Cuming, M Swift, E McPeake, M Sawbridge, D Steele,
Cllr R Robinson, S Holton, Cllr J Fraser, J Ramsay, Holborn and St Pancras Conservative Association, S Macpherson, AW and P Lessin, Baron Sleigh of Carbury, Mr J Mills, Dame E Mills, Dr V Rippere, M Davidson, H Garland,
Cllr F Rea, Miss C Wilson, Camden Market Traders, Cllr M Davies, Dr H Bennett, J Newton, E. Newton, R Lewin, E O’Dwyer, A Vickery, Cllr C Philp, Dr I and Mrs C Cannon, The Boundary Gallery, A McCuy, P Price, Cllr D Williams, Cllr P Callaghan, Cllr L Chung, The Highgate Society, K Gillies, A Athans, T Curtley,
T and E Dormandy, V Salmon, C Wade, S Plowden,
P Chrisostomou, Camden Inner London Licensees Association, the Oxford Arms, Hodge, Jones and Allen, Cllr K Moffitt, J Payn, Cllr R Hossack, Lady Sainsbury, The Sheephaven Bay, P Ivens, S Lannon,
P Murphy, N Ayre, N Creswell, S Cocking and C Kendrick.
• And thank you to everyone who donated anonymously too!