HUNDREDS of children will receive gifts tomorrow thanks to the people of Bolton who have pulled together to save this year's annual Bolton Lions toy appeal.

Businesses, organisations and individuals from across the borough rallied round ­— and not only did they raise more than £42,000 to buy gift vouchers and toys but also donated gifts making Christmas for 1,571 youngsters of all ages,

Ray Stafford, President of Bolton Lions, said: “People have been absolutely magnificent. We could never have guessed that we would have such amazing support – we can’t thank you enough.”

The popular appeal has been helping local families at Christmas for the past 37 years.

But the pandemic meant that the Lions – many of whom are retired and vulnerable – could not run the appeal as in previous years when donated toys were distributed.

At this point, in stepped Bolton Action Group. This comprises the University of Bolton, Bolton Wanderers Community Trust, Carr’s Pasties, Greenhalghs bakers, Lisa Forshaw PR, Bolton FM and other local businesses and organisations which all got behind the appeal.

They were supported by the Bolton News, the Bolton Family, Bolton at Home and Urban Outreach.

Gifts have gone out to families through Urban Outreach and Bolton at Home, through 15 local primary schools and nurseries, family homes and centres, Bolton Safeguarding Team, Bolton Looked After Children Team and Bolton Guild of Help as well as to individual families.

“It’s been a remarkable community effort including from Bolton Lions’ members, in particular John Crompton who organises the appeal,” added Ray Stafford.

Lisa Forshaw, who founded Bolton Action Group, stated: “It’s been lovely to see the whole borough coming together and working as a team. Wonderful things happen when people do this.”

Keith Harris from Bolton FM said: “The toy appeal has shown how Bolton’s business and voluntary sector work so well together. They have delivered just what was needed together in these unprecedented times.” Steve Thompson, Editor of the Bolton News, added: “It’s no real surprise that Bolton people have stepped forward when it was needed because that’s what they do. Thank you so much for sharing your Christmas with local needy families – you have made such a difference.”