A SPECIAL delivery of more than 600 presents brought Christmas cheer to flood victims in Cumbria after kind-hearted Saddleworthians rallied around to help.
Hundreds of families have been left homeless after Appleby-in-Westmorland, along with other villages, was devastated by floods over recent weeks.
Determined to help, Oldham DJ Neil Greenwood and Charles Brierley, owner of the White Hart at Lydgate, were planning to bring some of the families to Saddleworth to enjoy a free Christmas lunch and overnight stay.
But after floods hit Appleby once more, the community pulled together to make sure everyone had somewhere to go for Christmas and New Year in their local area.
Bill Collinson, chairman of the ARC Community Services Committee, said: “The community spirit has been fantastic.
“We expected to be inundated with requests from affected families to take up the offer to come to Saddleworth but it is heart warming that the community has looked after its own.”
Instead, Charles and Neil put out a call for donations to send to the village – and were astounded when around 600 gifts were pledged by businesses and individuals from Saddleworth and Oldham in just over a week.
And more than £650 has been donated online via ‘GoFundMe’, which will be distributed by the Rotary Club of Appleby.
The presents, ranging from blankets and coats to wine, chocolates and toys, were boxed with the help of Red Rose Packaging and labelled according to recipients’ age and gender.
Then the gifts were loaded onto a Swans coach on Christmas Eve and delivered to Appleby by David Appleyard, who kindly volunteered to take on the four-hour round trip.
David said: “I used to be in the army so helping other people seems like second nature to me.”
Neil, who volunteers at homeless shelters over Christmas, added: “It is a shame we couldn’t help by bringing the families here but in a way a better result has happened.
“The generosity of people has been fantastic and it makes me proud to be an Oldhamer. ‘We owe a huge thank you to many people who offered to help and donated gifts.”
And Charles said: Charles: “We had a tremendous response and we’re so pleased.
“One couple have lost not just their home but also their business. I asked them to come and stay for a couple of days after Christmas with all meals and transport covered.”