‘A HUGE thanks to our wonderful community’.

That is the heartfelt message from the Otley-based organiser of yet another successful Yorkshire Children’s Hospitals Christmas Gift Appeal.

Mel Metcalfe and a team of fellow volunteers have been delivering donated presents to hospitals and hospices across the county over the past few weeks despite the challenges of the pandemic. The impact of two national lockdowns threatened to damage the appeal but Mel credits incredible community support for ensuring its success.

Posting on the appeal’s Facebook page, she said: “Our biggest and last ‘thank you’ is going to you. We were already struggling this year after not being able to fundraise and when the second lockdown happened we were literally desperate to keep the appeal going.

“We put a plea for help out and my gosh did you all come to the rescue. Our wonderful community saved our appeal. Offers of help and donations came flooding in.

“We were so blown away by the response; we honestly can’t put into words how grateful we are to you all who have supported the appeal.

“From the donation drop-off points, businesses, churches, clubs, schools, donors, collectors, individuals, families, drivers and delivery elves, wrappers, and supporters, stall helpers and prize givers - you are all amazing and without you the appeal would not be a success.

“Thanks to you all we managed to donate and gift over 600 Santa sacks full of donations to so, so many hospitals and hospices across Yorkshire. Thank you for putting beautiful smiles on young, brave faces and letting these kids and their families know that their community care for them.”

Mel and her team have also taken the time to name and thank those individuals and groups who went ‘above and beyond’. One Otley church was singled out for playing a particularly vital role.

Mel said: “We have a very special ‘thank you’ going out to Chris and Beth and Bethel Church.

“We have had to obviously do everything different this year and had to bag, seal and label each sack and leave it untouched for so many days to make sure everything we sent was Covid-safe.

“Thank you too to the Otley Tavern and Methodist Church who also offered help, but the space we were offered by Bethel Church was just perfect.

“We have sorted and sealed and stored over 300 Santa sacks, full of donations, over the past few weeks and would not have been able to do this without the help and use of Bethel Church Hall, on Myers Croft.”