Christmas comes early for Highgate Newtown children
- Credit: Nathalie Raffray
Santa came early for excited children living in Highgate Newtown.
Children filed in to Santa's grotto on the Brookfield Estate in Croftdown Road on Sunday (December 19), to receive a free bespoke Christmas gifts.
Highgate councillor Anna Wright helped The Brookfield Tenants and Residents Association (BTRA) access £6,000 of community infrastructure levy (CIL), funds from new developments in the area, to make this Christmas extra special.
Of those funds, £3,000 paid for the grotto, including a free gift for 40 children aged under 13 on the estate including a scooter, Switch games and dollies.
"I went door to door asking a parent what their child wanted as there was no point spending money on toys they wouldn't like and only put in the bin," said Jane McWilliams, chair of the TRA, who went to bed at 4am the night before after wrapping each gift.
"I can't thank Anna enough for her financial and moral support. We couldn't have done this without her.
"We have a pretty deprived community here and have kids that don't have much, don't get the chance to see Santa never mind visit a grotto.
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"It's important for parents as well as they don't have to pay anything towards it."
Father Christmas, aka Neil Baker, a caretaker for Camden Council, said: "There's been a lot of sadness this year. After this I hope the children will be into the Christmas spirit."
He urged the youngster to wait until Christmas Day to open their gifts so "you don't spoil the magic".
Accepting his gift, Ibrahim, nine, said he was excited about Christmas Day.
"This is quite heavy," he added. "I'll probably open it before the 25th."
A further £2,000 of CIL money was spent on a Christmas tree and lights which stands at the intersection with St Albans Road.
Another £1,000 was spent on hampers containing "Christmas goodies" which will be delivered to elderly people on the estate by the children.
Cllr Wright, also Camden's lead member for promoting neighbourhoods and communities, said: "Congratulations to Jane and all the team. It's been a hard year in the community and they wanted to do something special to bring a Christmas cheer.
"I feel very proud as the ward councillor to make it happen, and to have been given permission to use our scarce resources."