Firm's bid to save Christmas

PUBLISHED: 13:46 25 October 2006 | UPDATED: 13:33 04 May 2010

Staff at Blue Donkey in the High Street, Ely

Staff at Blue Donkey in the High Street, Ely

WORKERS at a leading Soham company were so touched by the Ely Standard s exclusive story last week of the families hit by the collapse of a Christmas gifts firm that they have offered to help. Staff at Blue Donkey in the High Street are opening up their o

WORKERS at a leading Soham company were so touched by the Ely Standard's exclusive story last week of the families hit by the collapse of a Christmas gifts firm that they have offered to help.

Staff at Blue Donkey in the High Street are opening up their offices as a drop-in centre for well-wishers who would like to leave gifts to help save Christmas for the families.

Twenty eight families in East Cambridgeshire lost almost £8,000 when Farepak Food and Gifts went bust.

They had been saving throughout the year for vouchers to spend on Christmas presents and now have little chance of getting their money back.

When Blue Donkey staff read about their plight they decided to step in to try to help.

They have sent fliers to all the parents of pupils at St Andrew's School, Soham telling them about the drop-in centre.

Robbie Rouse from Blue Donkey said: "The unfortunate collapse of the Farepak catalogue has captured the attention of Blue Donkey and we would like to help.

"We want to take advantage of our location at the centre of the town by offering our premises as a drop point for those who would like to donate gifts to the families that are affected by this unfortunate event."

Farepak agent, Susie Holt, of High Barns, Ely, who signed up the East Cambridgeshire families, said she has been overwhelmed by the public's concern.

She said: "I am delighted Blue Donkey is going to help. People have been so kind.

"A pensioner stopped me in the street to say that if she won the lottery she would give me the money."

Swindon-based Farepak Food and Gifts, established 30 years ago, offered people the chance to save in weekly or monthly instalments, paid to agents across the country, which could buy gifts, food hampers or vouchers for Christmas.

But two weeks ago administrators were appointed by the High Court in London to wind up the company.

Trade Minister, Ian McCartney has called on Britain's shopkeepers to help thousands of families across the country who are facing a bleak Christmas following the company's collapse.

His plea for help has been backed by the retail union, Usdaw, and a spokesman said: "It is ironic that Farepak customers paid for their hampers weekly to avoid getting into debt and yet are still left with nothing to put on the table though no fault of their own."

Anyone wishing to donate gifts for the families can drop them off at Blue Donkey's offices at 50 High Street, Soham.

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