A guardian angel stepped in to put a smile on the faces of scores of children and adults this Christmas
Selfless Joan Laws felt compelled to give families who would otherwise be struggling, a festive season to remember.
The former business development advisor had been inspired after calling in to donate some items to support group Hebburn Helps and seeing the work of founders Jo Durkin and Angie Comerford and their team of volunteers.
Not only did Joan pay for a Christmas party for 65 families, she also bought presents for youngsters, donated 20 chickens to be included in food hampers and paid for he group’s volunteers to go out and enjoy a Christmas meal.
Joan, who grew up in Hebburn, said: “I have been going in and dropping bits and pieces off at Hebburn Helps for a couple of months and I just wanted to do something more to help.
“I decided I wanted to do a Christmas party for the kids and families so I just went for it.
She is like our guardian angelAngie Comerford
“I started looking for venues and Angie sorted the disco.”
She added: “The whole event was so emotional. There were 67 gifts in total for the kids and it cost me a fortune but it was well worth it to see their little faces light up.
“I was born and bred in Hebburn and you don’t realise the extent of people’s struggles until you come to a place like this.”
The party was held at St Aloysius Church Hall and featured a disco, face painters, a visit by Santa, sweet carts, chocolate fountain and candy floss machine.
Angie said: “Joan walked through our doors a couple of months ago and said she wanted to do something for the kids in the community.
“She wanted to organise a party for them. She spent over £4,000 on putting it on, with a buffet and disco and all the kids got presents.
“We had Santa coming in to pay us a visit - they all had a great time.
“And it was all through the generosity of Joan.
“As well as the party she paid for all our volunteers to go out and enjoy a Christmas meal.
“We really can’t thank her enough for what she has done for us and the families - she is like our guardian angel.”
The service provides help to families struggling to make ends meet through food parcels, clothing, household items and drop-ins sessions for people seeking benefits advice.
For information visit hebburnhelps.co.uk