Christmas came early for children on a hospital ward after a successful radio appeal replenished their dwindling stock of toys.

Young patients on the Starfish children’s ward at Watford General Hospital received an early festive surprise when BBC Three Counties Radio presenter Nick Coffer turned up yesterday with nearly 400 toys donated by the residents of Bushey and Bushey Heath.

Ahead of a live broadcast of his show from the ward, and with stocks of new toys running bare on the unit, Nick put an appeal out on the Bushey Heath Facebook page on Tuesday evening, and on his radio show on Wednesday lunchtime.

The Three Crowns pub and the Harvester restaurant in Bushey both acted as collection points and 24 hours later, both sites were inundated with brand new toys.

Man with a van, Ian Vaughan, from A2B Movers in Borehamwood, helped move the hundreds of donated toys which were delivered live on air to surprised and delighted hospital staff.

Nick said: “I was hoping for maybe 20 or 30 toys to take in. To say that the local community went beyond my wildest hopes is a massive understatement.

“Having now spent the day on the ward hosting my radio show, and having seen at first hand the incredible passion, care and warmth of all the staff and volunteers on the ward, I can see how valuable these new toys will be and what a difference they will make”.

Play specialist Karen Raney-Marr added: “We’re absolutely delighted by these gifts and overwhelmed by people’s generosity.

“They will make so much difference to the children on Starfish. Lots of toys on the ward get broken through wear and tear so it’ll be lovely to be able to replace them with new things.

“We’ll also have enough toys to hand out as presents for birthdays and for bravery throughout the year. The people of Bushey and Bushey Heath have done such a lovely thing. We really do rely on donations for our toys so thank you so much.”

Harvester Bushey’s general manager, Clare Turner, said: “By mid afternoon on Wednesday we had just a small handful of gifts. Then they suddenly started to flood in and by 8pm the whole of our rear bar area was full of amazing toys”.

The choir of the Bushey Academy school also sung live, while magician Krisgar entertained the children.

Pictures from BBC Three Counties Radio presenter Nick Coffer's visit to the Starfish children’s ward at Watford General Hospital