England star Jordan Pickford donates football boots to South Shields cause helping give disadvantaged children a better Christmas
A headteacher is hoping a donation by Three Lions goalkeeper Jordan Pickford will help save Christmas Day for hundreds of North East youngsters who would otherwise wake up with no presents to open.
Excited youngsters at SS Peter and Paul RC Primary School, in Olive Street, South Shields, were left overjoyed when they heard Pickford, who is in Qatar on England’s World Cup campaign, had gifted a pair of signed football boots to raffle in aid of their Christmas appeal – Norah’s North Pole.
The cause, created by the school’s headteacher Maria Butt and her family, aims to continue their mum Norah Wilkinson's legacy of "It's nice to be nice" following her death in 2015.
The doting grandmother would each year take her grandchildren to make gift boxes that would then be distributed to young people who were at risk of having nothing to open on Christmas Day.
However, with the rise in the cost of living, the number of donations as seen in previous years has dropped, while the list of young people at risk of thinking they are undeserving of a gift from Santa has increased.
It is hoped, with the help of Jordan Pickford’s kind-hearted gesture, people will get behind the cause by buying raffle tickets to help generate much-needed funds to enable more presents to be bought and more children to be helped.
Raffle tickets, priced £2, are available online by visiting https://www.letslocalise.co.uk/entertainment-details-view?eventId=13201
Deadline for tickets is Wednesday December 14, with the winner drawn the same night.
Mrs Butt said: “Last year we had a great response to the appeal, but this year, because of the economic crisis, and people having to choose whether to eat or heat, we have not had as many donations, but at the same time we are getting more children needing our help.
“When I received the phone call, from a teacher at Bishop Chadwick Catholic Education Trust to say we could have a pair of Jordan Pickford’s boots to raffle, I was absolutely delighted, it was like Jordan Pickford is going to save Christmas for a lot of young people thanks to this donation.
“It has been so hard this year, and some of these children have come from such a traumatic background, that even a little bear that they can cuddle into, can bring them such comfort. While others, without our help, really would have nothing on Christmas Day.”
Mrs Butt added: “The pupils have been really excited by the donation by Jordan Pickford and that they have been able to touch his boots, and with the World Cup being on, it has made it even more special for them.”
Pupil Catie Newton, 10, said: “We think it’s amazing.
“I’m glad I raised money, as it means children will get presents on Christmas Day.
"It’s great what Jordan Pickford has done, and I have been able to have my picture taken with them. So even if I don’t win the raffle, I have had my picture taken with them.”
Jack Moss, 10, added: “I can’t describe it, being able to hold Jordan Pickford’s boots. It’s exciting.”
What started out as a small family affair, to create Norah's North Pole, has now expanded with companies and schools across the region getting involved.
Over the years, the cause has led to thousands of youngsters from South Tyneside, Sunderland, Durham and Washington, waking up on Christmas Day with a gift to open, thanks to the generosity of residents.
The appeal works alongside social workers, schools, and health visitors to identify children from babies to teenagers who would benefit from the gifts.
Anyone would like to make a donation can still do so up until Friday December 16 by delivering to St Peter and St Paul's RC Primary.
There is also an Amazon wishlist for anyone unsure what gift to buy.
For information on Norah’s North Pole, to make a donation, to find out drop-off points for gifts or to gain access to the Amazon wishlist visit https://norahsnorthpole.co.uk/