BOLTON'S iconic Christmas Toy Appeal which was cancelled due to the coronavirus has been saved.

The Bolton Lions Club announced the annual fundraiser, now in its 38th year, would not go ahead earlier this month to keep their elderly and vulnerable members safe.

But a group of local business people and other organisations have stepped in to save the day - and help deliver gifts to thousands of children who would otherwise go without.

The groups have formed 'Bolton Action' - a group with the ambition of helping the town get back on its feet after lockdown.

Ray Stafford from the Bolton Lions Club said: “We realised we were going to struggle for the appeal this year and are very grateful to Bolton Action for offering help. This is a game-changer for us.”

Last year, around 1200 children from 800 families across the borough received gifts from the appeal.

Demand for the toys, which are handed out for distribution to Bolton at Home, Urban Outreach, and Social Services, has increased year-on-year in recent times.

Keith Harris from Bolton FM, who is a member of Bolton Action, said: “We’re delighted to help the Lions continue their fantastic efforts in these very difficult times.”

Bolton Action is made up of local business people including Matt Carr from Carrs Pasties, PR expert Lisa Forshaw, Sarah Goulding from Greenhalghs, Kaye Price from KP Financial Wellbeing (a Partner Practice at St James’s Place Wealth Management plc) and freelance journalist Angela Kelly.

Ian Savage, a media consultant who works with the University of Bolton, and the Rev Phil Mason from Bolton Wanderers Community Trust are also in Bolton Action along with Liam McBride and Mark Murray from Whysup which works with mental health and addiction awareness.

Lisa Forshaw said: “We didn’t want to stand back and do nothing when Bolton needs people to take direct action to make a difference to the town. Now, we just want to move forward and focus on the positives - and help organisations like Bolton Lions.”

Matt Carr added: “After growing up in Bolton, I have spent a lot of my time living in London and Sheffield. So I have a sense of perspective regarding how our town is a special place. I know that if we work together, we can achieve great things together. Bolton Action is a group that promises to always take positive steps to achieve this.”