THE Press' Toys & Tins Appeal - aimed at brightening up Christmas for some of York’s most vulnerable people - has won a massive double boost from two organisations.

Hundreds of toys, books and games have been donated by the Yorkshire Air Museum at Elvington and by Benenden in Holgate Park.

The museum recreated an extraordinary gesture of goodwill on the part of French airmen based at Elvington airfield during the Second World War.

On Christmas Eve 1944, the airmen delivered 204 handcrafted toys to the Mansion House to be distributed to sick and needy children in hospitals and institutions.

Museum director Ian Reed said: “The humanity of these young French airmen towards the English children, whilst their own families and loved ones were in unknown circumstances within Occupied France, shines through the ages as a testament to their fundamental good nature and kind spirit."

Museum officials went back to the Mansion House yesterday in a period Citroen Traction Avant to hand toys over to the Lord Mayor of York, Cllr Ian Gillies, and the rest of the civic party for distribution to The Press appeal and also to Martin House Hospice and York Hospital children's ward.

Meanwhile, Claire Waines, of Benenden, said it had supported the Toys &Tins Appeal for several years by collecting a 'fantastic bundle of goodies'.

She said: "We set up a Winter Wonderland in our office last Friday, where employees could make their donations to the appeal to be put in Santa’s sack, as part of a wider Christmas fundraising day.

“We’d like to wish the beneficiaries of the Independent Domestic Abuse Services and the Salvation Army our very best wishes for Christmas and hope that the donations make a big difference.”

The appeal benefits the Independent Domestic Abuse Services (IDAS), formerly the York’s Women’s Aid Refuge, where women and their children go to recover from the trauma of domestic violence, and the Salvation Army, which provides food parcels and toys for people in need.

* Toys and non-perishable food can still be handed in to The Press reception in Walmgate until 5pm today and from 9am until 10am tomorrow.