Coventry’s Central Fire Station crews gather festive toys for local hospitals

Firefighters hope to gather more toys than ever in an annual appeal for children who will spend Christmas in hospital.

Crews from Coventry’s Central Fire Station, on Radford Road, were filling fire engines with toys for youngsters at Birmingham Children’s Hospital and University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire.

Daniel McQuillan, who led the collection, estimated previous appeals amassed up to 300 toys.

“Last year we filled two [engines]. This year we’re hoping to fill two again, maybe three. We’ll see what we can do,” he said.

The “fill a fire engine” appeal was started four years ago by firefighter Darren Hutchinson after his young son was treated in Birmingham.

Mr McQuillan, of green watch, said his friend’s venture snowballed over the years.

“We do get loads of people donating… the generosity of people is great,” he added.

He said the children “loved” last year’s visits, which coincided with appearances from David Walliams and the Aston Villa team.

Crews hoped to provide a mascot to visit wards this year and bring patients outside to see fire engines.

Mr McQuillan explained the appeal was close to many members’ hearts.

“A lot of people across the brigade have used Birmingham Children’s Hospital so we do get a lot of donations from other firefighters,” he said.

People were asked to drop brand new items, external at the Radford Road fire station, and crews also hoped to collect at Coventry City’s home game against Birmingham City on 8 December.

“We get loads of younger kids toys but it goes all the way up to 18… we want to be able to deliver to everyone really,” Mr McQuillan added.

Local organisations were also collecting donations from members, including Soccer Rockz FC and Revolution gym.