Gaping Goose Garforth landlandy 'over the moon' after raising more than £11,000 for Yorkshire Air Ambulance

A Leeds landlady is "over the moon" after smashing a £10,000 fundraising target for charity this Christmas.

By Rebecca Marano
Wednesday, 29th December 2021, 12:55 pm

Jo Heywood, of the Gaping Goose in Garforth, has been hosting events throughout the year to raise money for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance (YAA).

Her fundraising efforts came after the success of her drive-thru Santa experience in 2020, which she had held to give families a bit of festive cheer while Leeds was under Tier 3 lockdown restrictions.

After the overwhelmingly positive response from people in the area, she and her staff decided to set the ambitious target of £10,000 by Christmas Day.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Garforth landlady Jo Heywood has raised more than £11,000 for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance after a series of fundraising efforts this year. She said she couldn't have done it without her team and support from the community. Photo: Jonathan Gawthorpe.

In total, the pub has raised £11,175.51 as of Monday, December 27.

Jo, 36, from Kippax, said: "We started off last year with the Santa drive thru but I wanted to keep on going.

"My dad was one of the first crew on the Yorkshire Air Ambulance site. It's one of those charities that hope you don't need but thank God it's there.

"The charity runs on the goodwill of people across the country. It wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the community of people supporting it.

The whole team got involved with spreading the Christmas spirit by hosting some festive fundraising events for charity.

"I found out it costs £12,000 day to fly one helicopter and I thought surely we can do something.

"It’s not Government funded and we need to support it and keep it going.

"We have done everything and anything, whether it's raffles or quiz nights, mystery boxes, a beer festival in August, Christmas parties, Christmas under the stars - anything we can do, I’ve done."

Jo said she has been touched by the support of people in Garforth and said many people have shared their personal stories about the YAA.

The team have raised thousands for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance.

She said: "People in Garforth have been so supportive, even more so over the last year. That's one good thing that Covid has brought out in people; it's brought us back to reality and I hope it continues.

"Through the fundraising I have heard so many heart-breaking stories, including a woman who's brother died many years ago who always donates because she says if the YAA had been around then he might have survived.

"There are so many people who told me the charity is close to their hearts and many families who have a connection to the charity.

"People have shared such personal stories with me and its good for them to be able to talk about these things.

"I don't think we fully understand how amazing this charity is and how much it actually does.

"Every charity out there is brilliant but when you save a life you don't just save that one life you save the rest of the family's lives too because a death changes everybody."

Jo said she is so proud to have raised more than £11,000 for the charity this year - but has vowed to continue her fundraising efforts.

She said: “Every time I changed the total on our fundraising board I got tearful.

"I am over the moon and secretly want to get it to £12,000 now by the end of the year.

"If a little pub can raise this much money in a year, can you imagine what it would be like if a international company did it?

"I hope people realise no matter how small your business is, you can do it. If you set your mind to something you can do it and you can achieve your goal.

"You've just got to be a bit cheeky and ask.

"Don't be afraid to be told no because you're no worse off if you get told no."

She added: "I'd like to thank my boss Gary and Claire Bond and my husband Mark for supporting me.

"I'd also like to thank my staff and most of all, I'd like to thank the people that have supported us and the pub itself throughout the pandemic, and through raising this much money because I really couldn't have done it myself.

"Everyone's saying to me 'you've done an amazing job' and I just reply 'no we did'. I couldn't have done it without anybody else.

"Depending on any restrictions announced, we are hoping to have a New Year's Eve party where the percentage of the ticket sales will be going to the charity as well.

"I’ll never stop raising money for the air ambulance. The YAA never stops, so why should I?"

Read More

Read More
Mumtaz Leeds gives away more than 1,200 free meals on Christmas Day

Christmas joy for children

A total of 345 children have been to the Gaping Goose to see Santa this year, many return visitors after last year’s Santa drive-thru.

Jo said that as well as raising more than £11,100 for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance, it was also fantastic to spread some Christmas joy to children who live in Garforth and the surrounding areas.

She said: "It is amazing we had so many children visit when everywhere else is open.

"It was nice speaking to the parents that came last year, they said that whenever they drove by the pub, the children would say 'that's where Santa lives.'

"We aimed last year to make a memory and we have done."

She added: "It was so nice that the kids were able to sit in the grotto with Santa this year.

"It was so humbling listening to their stories.

"One little lad said: 'I don't want anything, give my presents to other children that need one Santa'.

"He said he got lots of presents last year but knows that other people didn’t, so he said they could have his this year.

"Children do understand what has been going on.

"We as adults have found it really hard and I think we think these kids that have gone through the pandemic will just forget, but they’re so clever and they do understand.

"It's amazing to see such young people think of other's before themselves."

Support the YEP and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to local news and the latest on Leeds United. With a digital subscription, you'll see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Click here to subscribe