FATHER Christmas was among the special guests at the launch of a Pembrokeshire charity’s Christmas toy appeal on Friday afternoon.

Last year Pembrokeshire Action to Combat Hardship (PATCH) ensured families across the county enjoyed a much brighter festive season by donating more than 500 toys to children who might not otherwise receive a gift on Christmas Day.

Tracy Olin, PATCH coordinator, said: “Many of our clients cannot afford to eat, so Christmas is a scary time. If you can help in any way we would really appreciate it.”

Donations of toys are needed, suitable for 0-18 years, from stocking fillers to toys and games. The charity also needs wrapping paper, sticky tape and cardboard boxes.

The ‘great sort’ will take place on December 14, 16 and 17 at PATCH’s Milford Haven base and Frame has once again kindly agreed to distribute the toys to all the referred families.

On the first day Tracy will be doing a sponsored silence, which she admits will be quite a challenge for her. Volunteers will be needed for the sort as well as people to make tea and coffee to help fuel the hard-working elves.

Tracy said: “You feel just like Father Christmas doing the sort. Every year I am amazed at people’s generosity, but I still panic though. It is hard work but great fun.”

County Councillor Guy Woodham spoke at the launch as the general manager of the Torch Theatre. He confirmed that once again the Torch would be offering free tickets to PATCH for its Christmas pantomime, which this year is Aladdin.

Cllr Woodham said: “On the matinee on December 20 we are offering the main house over to PATCH. It fits in with one of the objectives of our new business plan, which is to work more closely with PATCH to encourage more socially disadvantaged groups to attend the theatre.”

Preseli Pembrokeshire AM Paul Davies was also in attendance. He said: “PATCH do a fantastic job all year round, but especially at Christmas when they ensure that so many needy children in Pembrokeshire receive gifts.

"The many volunteers do a tremendous job to sort and organise the distribution of the toys. I am sure that the people of Pembrokeshire will again this year be as generous as they have been in the past. Without their support this would not be possible.”

For information see www.patchcharity.org.uk