Volunteers at the Downs and Special Friends support group said they were ‘absolutely flabbergasted’ after being presented with a surprise £6,000 Christmas grant from the Asda Foundation.
The group aims to provide activities, events and support for around 200 children and adults with Down’s Syndrome and other disabilities like autism, as well as helping their families, too.
The children enjoyed a visit from Santa at the party along with face painting, balloon modelling, and were halfway through a game of pass the parcel at the party with the help of volunteers Akhtar Kasia, Mariam Laher and Barbara Clelow when Sharon took to the stage to reveal the surprise.
Jacky Eva, who set up the group two years ago, said: “It’s an absolutely fantastic Christmas present – it’s touched us all.”
Jacky is a regular customer at the store with her daughter Nina, who has Down’s Syndrome. She added: “We wondered why the game of pass the parcel had stopped halfway through! We’re all absolutely flabbergasted, nobody can believe it’s happened.
“It was total shock for all of us – Akhtar fell to his knees with the shock.
“It’s an amazing donation and it means a lot to our group, as we’re all volunteers – we haven’t stopped talking about it since! We do all our own fundraising so to be given £6,000 to spend on the kids is just amazing.
“At the moment we’ve got nothing at all because the premises we were using have been taken over by somebody else. We’re looking for a new base, so the timing of this grant is perfect.”
The money will be spent on toys, including light-up fibre optic toys, bubble toys, and a pool table and computer games for the older children and adults. In time Jacky hopes to develop a sensory room.