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Michelle's winter wonderland Christmas surprise for children at community centre

December 17, 2019 09:03 AM

Our Gosforth store's community champion Michelle Castledine wanted to give children from a local community centre she supports a Christmas party to remember – so she arranged for a giant inflatable igloo, snow machine and entertainers to add an extra sprinkling of festive magic.

Michelle works closely with Hazelrigg Community Centre, and wanted to help when she heard they weren't planning anything special for Christmas.

She secured a donation from the Asda Foundation to help pay for food and gifts – and to make the children's party extra special.

Michelle said: "The children were just so excited. They kept saying 'Is that all for us?'

"They couldn't believe it when they saw the igloo outside! They all loved the snow machine and the DJ and the entertainer were absolutely amazing. Everyone had such a good time – there was so much going on!"

Each child also got a goodie bag from Santa and enjoyed hotdogs and soft drinks too.

Michelle, who volunteers at the community centre, said: "The centre is in the middle of an estate and it's thriving – it's amazing! It's gone from strength-to-strength with lots of groups now using it.

"The volunteers at the community centre are so passionate and work so hard. They come into the store for their shopping and we just hit it off.

"They run an elderly lunch club which I help with on a Thursday and also run activities for children as well as hiring it out for groups as Brownies and sports groups.

"When we were talking in the store I asked what they were doing for Christmas and they said they were planning little parties – one for the elderly lunch club and another for local children. Nothing big, just nibbles etc. I said I would see what we could do.

"I applied for an Asda Foundation grant and they came back with a cheque for £500 to cover the cost of the food for both parties which was brilliant. Then they came back to say they wanted to do an extra special surprise for the Christmas party for the children – a disco, giant igloo and snow machine. I've been dead excited!"

Natasha Paley, who's helped to run the centre for the past five years, couldn't thank Asda and Michelle enough.

She said: "We weren't expecting the money from the Asda Foundation for the parties so it was a lovely surprise – but then Michelle got back in touch to say they wanted to do something extra special. We couldn't believe it. It's been so hard keeping it a secret, I just wanted to tell everyone!

"Michelle and Asda Gosforth have been absolutely brilliant, not just financially, but coming down to help too. I really can't thank them enough."

Asda Gosforth store manager Mark Russell, who helped Michelle at the party, said: "It was very humbling and a privilege to go along.

"The surprise of the igloo, snow machine and the disco made such a huge difference to what would have been a small Christmas gathering. The children loved it. It was so heartwarming to see".

Mark was full of praise for Michelle, who he described as "awesome" .

He said: "She is very, very passionate about her job and what she does in her community. She is such asset to the store and to the company.

"On the day of the party, she helped to set up and clean up afterwards. She has so much energy, she never stops!"