The Wokingham Paper

Reading Toy Run cancelled due to coronavirus – but toy dump to take place instead


IT’S ONE of the biggest days in Wokingham’s calendar, but it’s also another casualty of the pandemic. This year’s Reading Toy Run is being replaced with a toy dump instead.

In normal times, around 2,500 bikers wear festive fancy dress to take part in a ride from the former Foster Wheeler building in Shinfield to High Close School.

Each one brings a toy to donate to Barnardo’s, which are then distributed to children across the country.

It’s a massive undertaking which sees thousands of people take to the streets of Lower Earley, Winnersh and Wokingham to watch the procession as it snakes through the borough.

Organiser Ben Spiller is devastated that the usual event has had to be cancelled because of Covid-19.

“With 2,500 motorbikes, we just can’t do it,” he said. “With all the crowds on the sides of the roads, and the social distancing, it’s just not possible to do safely.

“We’re very sad, but it’s one of those things we can’t do anything about.

“Some people come a hell of a long way to take part.”

To replace the ride, the Reading Christian Bikers Group is organising a toy dump, which will run on Sunday, December 6. Bikers can turn up at High Close School between 10am and 3pm and leave gifts in the car park. Places for this should be booked in advance so that the traffic can be staggered.

There will also be collection points set up across the region, and a Just Giving page for donations will be launched so that people who can’t attend the event but want to donate a present can still do so.

Mr Spiller said: “The gifts will be left for 24 hours (for safety reasons) and then distributed across the country.

“We’re doing all we can to ensure children have a Happy Christmas.”

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