MORE than 500 children across Dorset will be getting Christmas presents thanks to this year’s Echo Toy Appeal.

The 13th Echo Christmas Toy Appeal has been heralded as a huge success thanks to a surge of late donations.

This year readers donated hundreds of toys to make sure that underprivileged children in the county have gifts to open on Christmas Day.

Businesses also threw this support behind the appeal, with local companies donating more than £3,200 with another £970 in pledged donations.

There were also several generous donations from readers who did not wish to be named.

In total this year’s appeal raised £3,823.10.

Echo promotions manager Debbie Hellaby said that the response to this year’s event had been fantastic.

She said: “We are really happy with the last-minute support we have received from everyone.

“We were concerned it wasn’t going well but as always our local businesses and readers have come up trumps.

“They have really done well this year, it’s such a good turnout.

“I would like to wish a merry Christmas and a happy New Year to all the children who will benefit from the appeal this year and to all the generous people who have supported the campaign.”

Piles of sacks filled to the brim with presents lined the Echo office in Weymouth before social and charity workers collected them to distribute.

The presents were wrapped and delivered to hundreds of children.

Sally Burnham and Julie Goodall, of the Kingfisher ward for children at Dorset County Hospital – one of the recipients – said: “May Kingfisher ward give you a huge thank you for all your kind donations for the children here over the festive period.

“We must have received 10 full bags of presents so this was a very generous effort on the part of everyone involved.

“The children on the ward all get a present over the Christmas week and the week before so they all leave with smiling happy faces.

“All the ward staff would like to take the opportunity to wish you all a very merry Christmas and happy new year.”

  • A BUILDING company has helped lay the foundations of a successful Echo Toy Appeal.

Our series of articles about the annual appeal to give deprived children the memorable Christmas they wouldn’t otherwise have has tugged at readers’ heartstrings.

We have gathered donations from collection bins dotted around West Dorset and have received some generous amounts of cash from local businesses.

Weymouth builders Belle Construction Dorset Ltd has donated £100 to the appeal. Secretary Verity Batchelor said: “We saw the appeal in the paper. I usually put toys in the appeal bin but this year we saw that more businesses were being asked to help.

“We decided we would give a donation of £100.”

Verity works at Belle Construction for her husband Dean, who is the managing director.

She said: “Having young children ourselves makes us more in tune with other children who might need some help.

“It’s nice to do something good that seems Christmassy at this time of year.”

The Toy Appeal has raised thousands of pounds for children.