A Swindon couple are hoping to bring Christmas magic to more than 700 vulnerable children as they play Santa again this year.

Thanks to the fundraising efforts of Reece Chaplin and fiancée Stephanie Childs last year, 617 children woke up to presents on Christmas Day.

Businesses and residents came together to raise over £3,500 for the Christmas Toy Appeal which helped 500 families.

The appeal was so successful Reece and Stephanie are doing it all again this year – and hope to bring the community together in the process. They also want to surpass last year’s total so they can bring smiles to even more faces.

The gifts will go to Swindon Toy Appeal, which works with The Harbour Project, Swindon Domestic Abuse Support Service and primary and secondary schools who refer families in the town.

Reece said: “Covid initially inspired this because I am quite involved with the community and I knew a lot of families would be struggling.

“We thought, let's try and make a difference and support our community.

“I had two goals when I first launched this appeal. My first was to help these families and give the children a Christmas to really enjoy and the other one was to bring everyone together so it feels like you’re part of something bigger.

“Doing all the fundraising and reaching out was the easy part. It wasn’t until I helped deliver the gifts to the families that I realised the impact we were having.

“You could just see the relief on people’s faces and the weight lifting off parents' shoulders. I had people telling me how thankful and grateful they were.

“This is just a small act in the scheme of things but it has such an impact.

“We plan to continue this every year and the ultimate goal is to host a Christmas dinner for all the families which will be inclusive and bring everyone together.”

Local businesses are throwing themselves into the festive fun to help out their community’s vulnerable kids.

Swindon Advertiser:

Emerald Windows and Doors has already donated £300. Gustoso will again be donating to the cause after supporting it for two years.

Swindon Advertiser:

Save on Tyres, which raised £1,200 last year, will give £1 from every maxxis tyre sold while Guys Barber’s is contributing a percentage of every haircut towards the appeal.

Swindon Advertiser:

Swindon Advertiser:

Roves Farm are not only helping out with the appeal's funds but they are also offering free family tickets to the farm.

Swindon Advertiser:

Reece will buy the gifts from The Entertainer, the town centre store which is supporting the appeal. Last year’s selection included exciting items that all kids would enjoy such as scooters, kitchen sets, Marvel and Toy Story toys, racing cars, Lego and much more.

He added: “There must’ve been a gift you really wanted. So when my fiancée and I went shopping last year we wanted kids to wake up and think this is amazing.

“You want it to feel like Santa’s been and that it’s a toy you would want Santa to deliver.”

To donate see www.gofundme.com/f/cu8rd-swindon-christmas-appeal/donations