Norwich store delivers Christmas teddy bear mountain for hospital
Santa and his elves flew into the children's ward at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital to deliver a fluffy mountain of cuddly toys.
Youngsters being treated at the hospital waded through a mound of more than 200 toys.
The mix of teddies, fluffy dalmations and pink poodles had been donated by the Matalan store at Riverside Retail Park, and are the result of the generosity of their customers.
The man in the Santa costume was Matalan deputy store manager Stewart Goodworse. He and his little helpers at the store have been running a scheme where customers buy a teddy and then donate it to a charitable children's cause.
Mr Goodworse took the idea from his old store in Scarborough and he says Norwich has the northern town beaten.
'It has worked far better down here,' he said.
'Better than expected, we've far outdone my old store.
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'There we got 200 bears, here it's 600.'
The hospital took 200, East Anglia's Children's Hospices took 25 and 100 went to Norfolk County Council social services. So many were donated, in fact, that the store is now stuck for organisations to give them to.
'I don't know what they thought when we told them we had 600 fluffy toys to give them,' said Mr Goodworse.
'We hope to find somewhere like an orphanage or children's home. These kids often get nothing or very little for Christmas, so it feels great to give them something,'
The whole staff at the store have been getting involved, he said. 'My office has been piled up with boxes of teddy bears, you couldn't move.
'We've only got small cars as well, I don't know how we did it.
'And unfortunately there is only one Santa costume, so the staff insisted that as I came up with the idea, I should be given the honour.'
Mr Goodworse and staff have also raised �2,100 for NSPCC this year, by taking turns cycling the distance from Norwich to Lapland on an exercise bike at the back of the store.
The 24-hour effort has even seen night shift workers chipping in.
Mr Goodworse said: 'Our area manager challenges us to raise the most for charity, and we are in the top 15 Matalan stores in the UK.
'We've raised about �9,000 over the year, but the teddy thing is different – a Christmas donation from us on behalf of our customers.
'I want to thank everyone who donated.'
The store is looking for other children's organisations to give the toys to. Contact the store on 0845 330 3330.
Are you doing something for charity? Call Evening News reporter Joe Wilkes on 01603 772439 or email firstname.lastname@example.org