Big-hearted bikers will be delivering presents - and a few smiles - to sick children across Sussex this Christmas.
Russ Green is the brains behind the Toy Run, which will see around 90 bikers deliver hundreds of gifts to children’s wards at the Conquest, the Eastbourne DGH, the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital in Brighton, Worthing Hospital and St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester.
Russ, from Hastings, is a volunteer rider with SERV Sussex, a charity which provides night time transportation of blood, blood products and other urgent medical items for NHS hospitals across Sussex.
He said: “We do it in collaboration with the SERV Sussex Blood Bikes.
“All those hospitals are served by the Blood Runners so all the ones we deliver blood to are being looked after on the Toy Run.
“We are covering every children’s ward in Sussex.”
As well as his fellow SERV riders, Russ will be joined by members of the Sussex Bikers Group, with other biking organisations invited to join the run on Saturday, December 17.
It is the third year Russ has organised the Toy Run, which came about after he successfully organised an Easter Egg Run, inspired by a girl from Bexhill suffering from a rare genetic ageing disorder.
He said: “I did the Easter Egg Run a few years ago because when I joined SERV there was a girl who lived in Bexhill who had progeria.
“We were delivering quite a lot of platelets to her at the Conquest over a three week period.
“I got chatting to some of the staff there about Easter as it was coming up and it turned out they only had three or four eggs that had been donated to the ward. I was not happy about that.
“So I launched the Easter Egg Run and that went well, so I started the Toy Run.”
Bikers from East and West Sussex will start at meeting points in their respective counties, meeting at Brighton before splitting for the run.
Bikers will be dressed up as assorted elves and Santas and dressing up their bikes.
Russ and the team are appealing for donations to take to the children’s wards.
He said: “We are looking for teddy bears, clean unwrapped toys, chocolates for the staff members, books and things like that for the kids.
“We have got kids who are going to be bed-ridden, in intensive care and active, up and about. Boredom-busters and cuddly teddys. That’s what we want.”
There are a number of drop-off points across East and West Sussex: Route 1066 Cafe (A21, Johns Cross), Wesson’s Cafe (Horam), Whiteways Cafe (Bury Hill, Arundel), Hummingbird Cafe (Shoreham Airport) and Destination Triumph (Whiteways Roundabout, near Arundel).
You can also drop items at the Hastings Observer office in Telford Road during office hours, which will then be taken to a drop off point.
Worthing College, which has chosen SERV Sussex as its charity of the year, is acting as a drop off point this week.
Organisers have extended a special thanks to staff at the Bluefin Ward at St Richards, who are coming in on their days off to receive the gifts.
All times and routes will be posted on the SERV Sussex Facebook page closer to the date of the run.
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