THE organiser of this year’s Daily Echo-backed toy appeal has said a special thank you to all who donated this Christmas.

Great-grandfather Phil Carey, 91, said the number of donations has been “overwhelming”.

Thousands of children had a present to open under the tree this year thanks to donations from generous Dorset residents.

It is thought this year’s appeal was the most successful ever, and Mr Carey has been unable to count the number of presents that went to struggling families.

Mr Carey said: “To those who gave generously their gifts as individuals or companies whose employees made great donations, to the members of Bournemouth and Poole Echo offices, staff of Boots the Chemist, and the Poole Lighthouse Theatre, who collected the gifts, and to the many welfare groups who collected, wrapped and distributed the toys and gifts to the many deprived areas of our community, grateful thanks for making a difference to the lives of many deprived families of our community this Christmas.

“Your work is done.

“The gifts are now with the needy families of our great community.

“Words cannot express the joy and happiness brought to so many.”

Mr Carey, who is a member of the Salvation Army, said the toy appeal wouldn’t work without the support of local residents.

He said: “Truly, the spirit of Christmas joy emanates from the celebration of the birth of baby Jesus in a Bethlehem stable.”

Mr Carey believes that the number of toys collected this year has broken last year’s record of 10,000.

Gifts were also collected for those who spent Christmas in women’s refuges in Poole and Bournemouth.