Essex County Fire and Rescue Service


Les' Christmas plea to help families in need across North Essex

An Essex County Fire and Rescue Community Builder is asking for help towards his annual Christmas hamper campaign.

Community Builder Les Nicoll has made the campaign an annual event, with last year’s efforts raising £16,000.

But Les, who runs charity North Essex Support Team (NEST), has been inundated with appeals for help this year.

Les said: "I have been contacted by even more school welfare teams, social services, police officers and charities across Tendring and Colchester.

"They are asking for help for hundreds of families who rely on foodbanks just to get by. There will be no presents under their trees - it breaks my heart that children in north Essex will not be able to celebrate Christmas.

"In 2020, despite being a year of despair, you donated hampers and presents to 167 families. Everyone who donated created tears of laughter and joy where there was misery."

The campaign involves creating a hamper for families in north Essex who have been referred by social care, school welfare officers, charities and other community and agencies.

Each hamper is worth about £75 and has everything they need for a great Christmas Day; food for breakfast, dinner and tea, sweets, chocolate, sanitary products and toiletries.

They even include carrots for reindeer, mince pies for Santa, money for heating and new toys for the children.

Les said: “It has grown every year but I am worried about collecting more than 1,400 new toys for the children.

“I would be so grateful if Essex residents could add a toy or two to their Christmas lists; any age, boy or girl.”

How to get involved

Want to bring a smile to a family’s faces this Christmas? You can donate toys, cash or get involved as a volunteer. 

Les is also asking for volunteers to buy the items for the hampers, collect toys and fuel vouchers and deliver them to families. 

Shopping days start at 7.30am and are taking place at:

• Colchester: Tuesday 21 December Tesco Hythe, Greenstead Road, Colchester, CO1 2TE

• Clacton: Wednesday 22 December. Morrisons, Waterglade Retail Park, Clacton, CO15 1HX

• Harwich: Thursday 23 December, Morrisons, Iconfield Park, Harwich, CO12 4EN

After you’ve done the food shopping, you'll pick up gift parcels from Colchester Fire Station, Clacton Fire Station or Mayflower Heritage Centre in Harwich and deliver them to families.

If you'd like to volunteer please contact Les Nicoll on 07779 129888.

Page last updated 26 November, 2021

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