Sam Bannister collected over £500 worth of toys during his first Christmas toy appeal last year but says this year’s donations have more than doubled those numbers.
With help of various Chesterfield-based businesses, he has been able to gather toys worth more than £1,000 which have now been handed over Action for Children’s charity office in Newbold for local children in need this Christmas.
Big-hearted Sam spent four years in a children’s home and cited this as one of the reasons for launching the toy appeal.
He said: “As a child I was brought up in care in Sheffield. Latterly I went on to be adopted from the children’s homes and last year I decided to give something back in respect of what they gave me when I was a child.
"I got in contact with Action for Children who support children in many children’s homes and other families who are in need of things around this time of year.
"With that in mind I got a lot of people on board to help me; lots of friends and family and lots of strangers helping me to buy the presents for these people.”
Sam left school in 1985 and later joined the police force, where he was primarily based at Derbyshire Constabulary’s Ripley HQ.
In 2008, he was diagnosed with a long-term illness and needed a heart valve replacement so took early retirement.
He thanked those who donated to make this year’s appeal even more successful than the last.
“I’d like to thank a few companies… Smurfitt Kappa who came in with a whopping £500 donation this year and they’ve pledged to support us every year so thank you to them, especially David Dudley and Richard Owen,” Sam said.
"JS discounts on Whittington Moor who have also supported me and a local business called Sweet and Spongie Treats, she’s come in with an £134 donation.
"Gavin Cocking, a friend of mine and colleague. If it wasn’t for him some of this wouldn’t be possible.
"Thanks to everybody who has donated and thanks to [Action for Children] for letting me be part of their establishment.”