Cheltenham punter and Chelsea fan uses £3,000 winnings to set up Christmas toy appeal for seriously ill children

A BIG-HEARTED punter and huge Chelsea fan used her £3,000 winnings to set up a Christmas toy appeal for seriously ill children.

CJ Cooper, 22, from Henfield in West Sussex, landed the windfall from a treble and a Lucky 31, in which four out of her five selections won, during the Sunday of The November Meeting at the Home of Jump Racing.

Having already purchased Christmas gifts for her family CJ decided to put the rest of her winnings towards gifts for a children’s hospice after responding to a post on Twitter.

It took off, and the keen racegoer has been left 'overwhelmed' after receiving more than 500 gifts.

After sharing a picture of the presents she purchased with her winnings on Twitter, CJ received a number of messages from members of the public and the racing community wishing to donate toys and gifts.

In response to the messages the avid Chelsea FC fan created an Amazon wishlist for those who want to get behind the campaign.

As a result CJ has had bundles of presents delivered to her home, which will now be split between the Chestnut Tree House Children’s Hospice in Arundel, the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital in Brighton, the Shooting Star Children’s Hospice in Guildford and the Naomi House Children’s Hospice in Newbury.

CJ said: “I won a bet a few Sundays ago at Cheltenham. I had four out of my five come up in a Lucky 31 and also had a treble come in and I won about £3,000.

“It was the one I was most sure about, Put The Kettle On, that let me down in my Lucky 31 as if that had come up we would have been talking about thousands more pounds.

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“I’d already got all my Christmas presents for my family and there wasn’t anything I wanted but I randomly saw a tweet from a children’s hospice about Christmas gifts and I asked if they were collecting, so I spent all of that money on gifts and toys.

“About 5,000 people follow me on Twitter and they are all horsey type people and I got a lot of likes from the picture of the presents. It was then that I thought I could use this to inspire others.

“There was a suggestion of setting up an Amazon wishlist as a lot of people were asking for it. I set one up and just added gifts on there that were all £10 or less as I know times are tough for a lot of people.

“The number of presents that have come through my door has been crazy. I didn’t realise people would be this generous. I thought a couple of people might send a few gifts through but I didn’t think it would be this popular.”

Among those who have donated presents are Flat jockey Gemma Tutty, while CJ has also received £1,000 from a Grade One-winning owner, who wishes to remain anonymous but was keen to support the campaign.

She added: “I’ve had an ex-jockey donate along with current jockey Gemma Tutty. Another jockey got in touch on Instagram and asked to donate to charities of my choice and they donated £250 to four separate charities.

“I had one owner message me asking if he could send some money. I was expecting £50 to be in there but when I checked my bank he’d put in £1,000.

“What I did with all the money was buy the portable DVD players that one hospice had prioritised. Although I started this, most of it is down to the generosity of the racing community.

“I’m a nobody in racing but it is nice feeling that people have trusted me with the money and toys.”


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