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Santa’s Elf who is supporting the Alzheimer’s Society this Christmas

A Dunmurry-based joiner who handmakes wooden toys for special people, including Santa himself, is supporting Alzheimer’s Society this Christmas.

Harry Press, who also worked as a building contractor, has been crafting handmade rocking horses, cots and doll houses for over 40 years.

His four children were the first recipients of the lovingly made pieces, which have stood the test of time and are still played with four decades on.

When his 10 grandchildren questioned why his home was always full to the brim with toys Harry had to let them in on a special secret.

“I told them that I work for Santa, helping to make things for children and that some of them might even end up under their tree on Christmas morning,” smiled Harry, 74.

For the past number of years Harry has been raffling toys for charity, and this year he has chosen to support Alzheimer’s Society after he sadly lost his wife Bernadette to dementia on January 30.

“Things went very quickly after she was diagnosed, which was a shock to me because I know people that have lived with it for 10 years, but the main thing was she didn’t suffer.

“The nurses who looked after her were really good, but it was very rapid.

“Bernadette was just 74. She would have been 75 on 25th June.

“Making the toys is good because it keeps me busy and it’s our way of supporting Alzheimer’s Society.”

Harry’s handmade toys are heirloom items that are passed down through the generations.

“They are special because they are handmade and they really are very strong, they’re not like anything you buy in the shops.

“I know from when my own children were small that you buy these plastic toys and they are broken within a few days.”

This year Harry has made a doll’s house, small rocking horses and lots of cots which were sold in aid of Alzheimer’s Society.

And he plans to donate more items to be raffled in aid of Alzheimer’s Society next month. Details of where you can buy tickets will be available on the Alzheimer’s Society Northern Ireland Facebook page closer to the time.

People across Northern Ireland will have the chance to get in touch with their inner elves this December to raise vital funds for Alzheimer’s Society.

They will be donning their festive elf ears, tights and jingly shoes to mark Elf Day and help change the lives of the 22,000 people living with dementia in Northern Ireland.

People can fundraise in a variety of ways, from dressing up, organising festive bake sales or hosting a Christmas-themed event anytime throughout December.

Those living with dementia, and their carers, have been worst hit by coronavirus, and for many this festive season the magic of Christmas will be marred by families having to cope with an unmanageable and irreversible decline in their loved ones.

Jenay McCartan, Alzheimer’s Society Community Fundraiser for Northern Ireland, said: “We are in awe of our amazing supporters like Harry, who use their special skills to spread cheer and raise money for Alzheimer’s Society.

“The toys he makes are absolutely beautiful and will raise much needed funds for Alzheimer’s Society.

“Elf Day is another great way to get people together to celebrate the festive season, and it’s so easy to take part.

“You can dress up as much or as little as you like. You could keep it simple in red and green or jingle all the way with pointy ears and curly shoes.

“And if fancy dress isn’t your thing, you might opt instead to bake and sell some treats or organise a festive get-together.

“Regardless of how you choose to get involved, you will be raising vital funds and awareness during what can be a challenging and isolating time for people affected by dementia.

“We often see an increased demand for our services from families noticing changes in loved ones over the festive period.

“All the money raised will provide information and support, improve care, fund research, and create lasting change for people affected by dementia.”

On December 3, don your favourite Christmas outfit for Elf Day and help change the lives of people affected by dementia.

n Whether you dress up with your colleagues or get your friends and family to sponsor you, you can receive a free fundraising pack at alzheimers.org.uk/elf-day

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