A Bradford charity which is a lifeline for children with special needs and their families is appealing for volunteers to serve on its committee.

The Bradford Toy Library, based at the Child Development Centre at St Luke’s Hospital, is a registered charity offering a free loan service of specialist toys and play equipment to children with special needs. It also loans books and holds drop-in sessions and coffee mornings for parents.

Established more than 20 years ago, it exists purely thanks to voluntary donations and fundraising and is now asking for more help.

Emma Fawcett, one of the toy library’s two co-ordinators, said: “Our committee is eight-strong, but we need 15 people – especially a treasurer and a secretary. It would really help us keep the toy library going.

“We need people who are passionate about helping children with special needs. It would be so lovely maybe for someone who is retired to help with fundraising, or a business person to come forward for the role of treasurer. We just need to get people on board.”

The toy library has proved a lifeline for many families, including that of five-year-old Tora Clapham who was born with the genetic condition Aniridia, which affects her eyes. It means she is blind in her left eye and only has peripheral vision in her right.

Her parents Susan Blissett and Gordon Clapham, of Howard Park, Cleckheaton, have relied on the toy library to lend them expensive fibre optic lights to stimulate Tora’s eyesight.

In return, Miss Blissett has served on the committee for four years and organised fundraising events, including a sponsored walk along the Spen Valley Greenway from Heckmondwike to Cleckheaton.

She said: “We would never have been able to afford the fibre optic lights and it was very important to stimulate her eyes.

“The toy library has been a lifeline for us and I can’t imagine what it would have been like if we hadn’t have come here.

“The support the toy library has given me far outweighs the time I give to the committee.”

Sue Dent, of Saltaire, uses the library with her daughter Melody, ten, who has global development delay.

She said: “This is such a valuable resource and we need to keep it going. It means everything to me. It means I can meet other parents of children with special needs and Melody enjoys interacting with others. It is good for both of us.”

Michael Allan has been using the toy library for five years with his nine-year-old son Nathan, who has autism and severe learning difficulties. He said: “It gives us support and when everyone gets together we can share experiences. Every-one gets on really well. It is like another part of your family.”

Chairman of the toy library Emma Hanson, who is a special educational needs teacher at Hazelbeck Special School in Bingley, said: “We have a few people employed in healthcare and education on the committee, but we would like new blood.

“It would be as much or as little time as you want to give. You would need to attend two meetings a year and anything over and above that would be great.”

If you would like to help, contact The Bradford Toy Library on (01274) 365463 or e-mail: toy.library@bthft.nhs.uk or emmachanson@gmail.com