How Uckfield playgroup helps national appeal

When a national appeal was launched to find Tommy Tippee cups for an autistic teenager the organiser of an Uckfield playgroup was inundated with messages from mums and carers wanting to help.

king's church playgroup

Some members of the King’s Church Over Ones playgroup drinking out of their new Tommy Tippee cups at storytime. On the right is playgroup organiser Mel Holden, and next to her is Rebecca Geer.

They had spotted that the particular type of cup needed was one used by their playgroup … and they had 15 of them. Now those cups are on their way to 14-year-old Ben Carter.

The problem for Ben’s family was that the cups, which were made only for Boots, were no longer in production. His was falling apart and he would drink from nothing else.


The first Mel Holden, who runs King’s Church playgroups in Uckfield, knew of the appeal was when she was bombarded with messages from mums and carers by email and on Facebook pages for the three playgroups she runs.

Mel said the moment she saw the cup needed she knew right away those they used matched the description. One of the mums, Rebecca Geer, contacted Tommy Tippee who were helping with co-ordination of the appeal because Ben’s family was overwhelmed by the response to it.

Mel added: “Most people would use the cups for as long as needed and throw them away. We had been using them for one drink a week and while they were in relatively good condition they had seen better days and we were thinking of replacing them so we were pleased to be able to offer them to the appeal.”

New-style cups

Tommy Tippee immediately said they would replace the cups free of charge and they have sent the playgroup 51 new-style cups.

“I was overwhelmed when they arrived,” said Mel. “I told them they needn’t do that because we were going to replace them anyway but they have been incredibly generous. And they allowed us to send our cups to them by Freepost.”

There’s an even happier ending for the Carter family because Tommy Tippee have now found the original moulds for Ben’s version of the cup and they are going to make a run of new ones especially for them.

Mel said some parents might not understand how important it would be for Ben’s family to find the cups but Sid Martin, administrator at King’s Church, has an autistic child himself and he realised immediately that they must respond to the appeal.

“We were pleased to help,” she added.


• Three playgroups are funded by parishioners from King’s Church and are open to all parents/carers and their children free of charge. The groups meet weekly at Foresters Hall in New Town, Uckfield.

The Over Ones meet on Thursday mornings from 10-11.30am; the Under Ones meet on Thursday afternoons from 1-2.30pm, and the Twos meet on Friday mornings from 9.45-11.15am. If you would like to know more please call 01825 765115 or see the King’s Church website at

Late night shopping

• Look out for King’s Church at late night shopping in Uckfield tonight. They will be based in the courtyard outside the Final Score sports shop and will be giving away mulled cider along with goody bags for children.

Saturday morning fun

The church is also planning a morning of Christmas fun morning on Saturday, December 10, from 10am to noon, at Uckfield Civic Centre.

There will be a bouncy castle and inflatable assault course, face-painting and Christmas crafts and refreshments. It will  be free to attend.

Contact details

• Contact details for King’s Church are available 24/7 in the Uckfield Directory on the Uckfield News website. Look for the name or search in categories for Churches, or Groups and Activities.

See also:

Uckfield shops ready for late night shopping

‘Severe’ disruption expected on Southern trains during drivers’ overtime ban

Christmas lights may get a boost in 2017

Find local businesses in our Uckfield Directory

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