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James Defriend and Siobhan Lynch in children's Christmas gift fundraising after Covid family death

A shopkeeper is fundraising for children affected by Covid-19 after his girlfriend's mother died from the illness.

James Defriend set up an online fundraising page asking for Christmas gifts for youngsters from poorer families.

James Defriend and girlfriend Siobhan Lynch.Picture: GoFundMe
James Defriend and girlfriend Siobhan Lynch.Picture: GoFundMe

He explained: "We are aiming to help anyone in the Dover area that needs it and is struggling financially or is most affected by this nasty virus."

Mr Defriend, 41, of Dover, is being aided by his girlfriend Siobhan Lynch.

Her mother, Liz Masters, died from Covid-19 aged 61 in May.

Mr Defriend, who runs The Floor Store carpet shop in Poulton Close, Dover, said: "During the first lockdown I got lots of stock in to help people stay home like arts and crafts for kids.

"We also helped other local businesses stay afloat by advertising on the stay home stay safe Dover Facebook page.

"Last year I wasn't in a good financial position to help anyone as we also have six children aged between six and 11.

"This year things are a bit better so it's good to do something nice."

In 2018 Mr Defriend and Ms Lynch helped a local young woman with stage 4 cancer take her five-year-old child on a last holiday by raising more than £300.

She died a few months later.

Mr Defriend said: "She was lovely and as for that poor kid, it breaks my heart to think of him growing up without a mum.

"She had got a bus all the way from Sandwich just to say thank you.

"We want to try and do something every year to help the people that don't normally have people helping them such as charities.

"It's not just me, we have Siobhan helping and lots of local people have volunteered to help with wrapping."

Mr Defriend and a helper dressed as Santa will drive around delivering the presents on Christmas Eve.

He has recently received large donations from Toys R Us and the B&M store in Dover.

He has a list of 33 children to help so far, some of who are in temporary accommodation.

One family has no TV or washing machine.

Several households have wholly or partly lost pay during the pandemic.

This has usually been through redundancy from the resulting economic downturn or by cuts in income during furlough.

Mr Defriend's GoFundMe page by today (Friday) raised £285.

You can help by logging onto gofundme.com/f/gifts-for-dover-children

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