1970s children’s TV favourite to host Norfolk children’s party

Play school presenter to host children's Christmas party

She is a face known to millions of 1970s youngsters who grew up with her songs, stories and antics on the children's TV shows Play School and Play Away.

Now children from the Class of 2010 are to revel in the talents of presenter Toni Arthur, right, when she helps host a special Christmas party for blind and visually impaired children across Norfolk. It is Toni's way of repaying the Norfolk and Norwich Association for the Blind (NNAB) for the help the charity has given to her husband Malcolm Hay, after his sight began to fail.

Toni became a much-loved regular to a generation of youngsters on the BBC shows. She was also a successful folk singer and has written and directed drama for stage and radio.

Now living in south Norfolk, she will be reading stories at the children's Christmas party at the NNAB head-quarters in Magpie Road, Norwich, on December 11. 'It's my way of thanking the NNAB for all their brilliant help when my husband became partially sighted,' she said. 'We went to their King's Lynn centre to see what was available to help him, and they were just so nice.'

Her husband Malcolm is the former comedy editor for Time Out magazine and a university lecturer.

'Reading has been his life,' Toni said.

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'People from the association have been marvellous in suggesting reading aids to him, and so gentle towards him, making him feel so special.'

Other guests at the party will be the Sheriff of Norwich, Derek James, the Mayor of Great Yarmouth, Michael Jeal and Santa, who is arriving by tandem.

Thirty to 40 visually impaired children and their siblings are expected at the party, which is supported by workers from Norfolk County Council's sensory support unit and sensory education service, as well as several local companies which have given their services for free.

The NNAB's equipment and information centres manager, Dorothy Bowen said: 'It shows the whole community working together to give us their support, for which we are very grateful.'

See the January issue of EDP Norfolk Magazine for a full interview with Toni about her life in children's TV and in Norfolk (out on December 23).

Are you involved in an unusual Christmas event? Contact reporter Emma Knights on 01603 772428 or email emma.knights@archant.co.uk