African children given a claret and blue Christmas

Terry Burns. (s)
Terry Burns. (s)

A BURNLEY charity founder has helped make it a claret and blue Christmas for youngsters at a children’s home in Africa.

Terry Burns, of Briercliffe, delivered brand new Burnley FC kits dressed as Father Christmas to excited young people at the Children of Watamu Happy House in Kenya.

Terry, who created the Furniture for Education Worldwide charity, handed out gifts alongside wife Wendy and friend Steve Durkin who were dressed as his mischievous festive sidekicks “Elf and Safety”.

The special festive event saw 59 youngsters given Christmas gifts at the centre for children who have been orphaned, abandoned, neglected or abused.

Terry, who was awarded the MBE for his services to the Burnley community, made a very convincing Santa and he and his elves had the children in stitches with their antics before giving out the gifts, all donated from Happy House friends and child sponsors in the UK and other parts of the world

Terry said it was an honour to be able to bring some special Christmas magic to children who have had the worst possible start in life.

“It was an honour and a privilege to be the Happy House Santa. To see the smiles on the faces of the children means so much,’’ he said.

The Burnley-based charity has already sent two shipments of furniture recycled from schools and offices in Lancashire to equip the Happy House children’s home and school which was set up by Blackpool hotelier Sue Hayward.

Terry said: “To be there to see what Sue has created and to see for ourselves how the everything we have sent, and which would have gone into landfill, is being so well used was wonderful. To be asked to be Santa was a bonus. What Sue has done is amazing, she is a very inspiring lady.”

Terry went to see the work done at the centre while on holiday in Watamu with wife Wendy, who works at Co-op Travel, Burnley, son Gary, his fiancée Rachel Clamp and her mum, Karen Clamp along with her partner Burnley motor dealer Steve Durkin. Terry became involved with the Happy House after hearing Sue interviewed on local radio and it was his second visit to the centre.

As well a shipments of furniture, Terry has also worked with Burnley Football Club to send out junior football kits.

Mama Sue said: “Some of our children have lived on the streets, been exposed to prostitution or have been abused.

“We are mending their broken lives, putting hope back into their hearts.

“Celebrations like birthdays and Christmas cannot erase memories of the past, but they do create good memories – so that our kids can, as adults, look back on more happy times than sad ones.

“It is only thanks to people like Terry who support our work or who sponsor our children that we are able to do this. Everything the children received from Santa was donated.”

To find out more visit: www.childrenofwatamu.net or email elizabethgomm@childrenofwatamu.netAfrica