A member of the team on our National Housing Prime contract organises an annual event called the Windsor Toy Run to raise money and donate toys for the Broom Farm Estate and this year will be their 10th. This year they chose SSAFA, the Armed Forces Charity as their chosen charity and raised over £700 to go towards their mentoring scheme.
Stuart Hookway, one of our Accommodation Officers at Northwood who organises the event at Windsor, gets support from around 300 bikers who each decorate their bikes and don fancy dress. Each biker buys and donates a gift that is given to the Army Welfare Service on Broom Farm, these gifts are then distributed to the local regiments for their Christmas parties. A raffle is also held every year with all money raised going to a chosen charity.
The event started back in 2010 when Stuart worked for the local government in Windsor and both the Household Cavalry and 1st Coldstream Guards Regiments from Combermere and Victoria Barracks in Windsor had soldiers deployed to Afghanistan over the Christmas period. To spread some Christmas cheer and show their families they had not been forgotten about, Stuart organised the Windsor Toy Run.
At the first event there were around 50 bikers and now, nine years later, this is one of the main talking points on the Christmas events list throughout town. Since its’ inception nine years ago, the event has donated thousands of gifts and well over £15,000 to charities including, The Forces Children’s Trust, The Royal British Legion, The British Heart Foundation and The Pancreatic Cancer Research.
This annual event takes around 11 months to organise as Stuart has to arrange everything from the catering to the road closures. Stuart said, “Being a Veteran myself I know of the issues I had when leaving the military and restarting a life as a civilian was not an easy transition. Others find it easy and some find it hard, SSAFA offer help and support to struggling servicemen and women leaving the forces. Arranging the road closures, meeting points, the ride, the catering, all the risk assessments and the raffle takes time and effort, and I could not do this without the support from my family and friends. This last event had over 200 bikes, trikes and scooters turn out to spread some festive cheer and to donate toys and raise money for charity.”
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