Winter wonderland to help Echo Toy Appeal

Have your say

THE ECHO’S Christmas Toy Appeal has been handed a light fantastic boost this festive season.

For years, Jan and Syd Sykes have transformed their home in Parkhurst Road, Pennywell, into a winter wonderland.

The Sykes family house in Parkhurst Road, Pennywell, Sunderland

The Sykes family house in Parkhurst Road, Pennywell, Sunderland

But this year, for the first time the couple are collecting donations and have chosen to support our appeal.

“We have been doing this for about nine or 10 years,” said Jan.

“We used to see people who had lights up and I’d say ‘Why don’t we do something like that?’ – so we did.

“We do it because there’s not really anything for the kids up here 
in Pennywell.”

The house has become such a festive fixture that children post their letters to Santa through the letter box.

Jan and Syd make sure that everyone’s letter reaches the big man in time and everyone gets a reply.

“You can hear the kids outside when they are on their way to school, saying ‘It’s Santa’s house, this’,” said Jan.

“They post their letters through the door and they all get a reply from Santa – we’ve posted 112 letters out today.”

This year Syd and Jan have decided to put their hard work to good use. “We have never done it for charity before,” said Jan. “This year we just thought we would ask for donations and hopefully raise some money.”

The couple sold hotdogs, soup and refreshments and even arranged for the Backworth Colliery Band to play carols and Christmas music as they unveiled this year’s lights.

Many of the gifts donated to this year’s Echo appeal will go to shelters run by Wearside Women in Need, which helps women and children fleeing violent or broken relationships.

Lonely pensioners city-wide and vulnerable families recommended by social workers and health visitors will receive a share of donations, while good causes – such as the Bump to Baby Plus project (B2B) at Hendon and Ashkirk Homeless Households Project at Lakeside – will also benefit.