Grand opening of Stoke Gifford Toy Library

Photo of Rainbow leader Alix giving a short speech.

The grand opening of the new Stoke Gifford Toy Library, housed in a traditional red ‘heritage’ phone box in the centre of the ‘village’, took place on Saturday 8th September.

The idea for a toy library came about six months ago after the 2nd Stoke Gifford Rainbows visited the North Bristol Foodbank. The girls decided that they wanted to do something for children in the community who may not be as fortunate as themselves. During a Rainbows meeting, they decided to collect toys and books and then it was just a case of finding somewhere to store them. The phone box, located at The Green, North Road (near the Beaufort Arms), had been out of use for a number of months and was therefore bought by the parish council for £1 as they didn’t want to see it torn down. After approaching the council, the Rainbows were eventually given permission to turn it into a community toy library.

Funding for the project was secured after a massive effort by volunteers, girls and supporters saw them collect over 96,000 Bristol Post tokens and win the second-place prize of £2,000 in the 2018 Airbus Community Awards. This money was put towards refurbishment and painting of the telephone box, professional stickers for the windows and the all-important shelves for toys to be stored. The money that is left over will be used to maintain the facility in the coming years.

The grand opening was attended by children from both Rainbows and Brownies, as well as two local councillors and guests of honour Richard Bagenda and Bryan Curry, who gave up a lot of their time to help transform the phone box. There was also a cake sale held on The Green, with all proceeds going to the Gromit Unleashed 2 Appeal.

Alix, one of the Rainbows’ leaders, said:

“I am really pleased with the result. It has been a lot of hard work but it’s all been worth it. I’m really proud of the girls – all of the ideas came from them, they have done all of the decorations for the toy library and coordinated the cake sale as well.”

The toy library was opened at 11.30am after a speech from Alix thanking everyone who had helped with the project. It will now be open Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm and Saturday, 10am to 4pm. However, the library is run by volunteers so these times may vary. The principle of operation is that children can either borrow an item and return it at a later date, or they may swap an item with something of their own.

South Gloucestershire & parish councillor Brian Allinson, who attended the opening ceremony, said:

“We’re all really pleased with how the toy library has turned out. I think it is going to be an important part of the community and we have been happy to encourage it.”

Photo of a group of rainbows jointly cutting a ribbon to officially open the toy library.

Ruth, who was one of the Rainbows to come up with the idea and is now a Brownie said:

“We went to the foodbank and saw people less fortunate than ourselves. We wanted to do something for the community and thought that all children deserve to have toys to play with. I’m really happy now that it is done.”

Richard Bagenda and Bryan Curry both played vital roles in renovating the phone box, making it safe and water tight. Richard, who works as a structural engineer at the MoD, was asked to assess the phone box and write a report on what work needed to be done and how it should be done. This report was then presented to the council when the Rainbows were asking for funding. Bryan, a local resident, offered to help with the renovations and spent many hours working on parts of the phone box in his garage with Richard.

Bryan, who has lived in Stoke Gifford for many years, said:

“This was a really interesting project. I enjoyed doing it and I enjoyed hearing people commenting on it – saying that they were pleased it was being renovated as it makes up part of the history of Stoke Gifford.”

Richard added:

“There were many challenges whilst we worked on the phone box from it being too hot to there being too much rain! However, after ripping it all out and removing the glass panels, we eventually finished and I’m really happy with how it looks.”

Although the library is now up and running, the Rainbows are still looking for donations of good quality toys and books. If you have anything that you would like to donate please email and someone will be in touch to arrange collection.

The hope is that, as well as being enjoyed by the community, this project will also raise awareness of what the Rainbows and Brownies do and this will then encourage more people to get involved with Girlguiding. There is currently a waiting list of girls wanting to start Rainbows, but there are not enough people wanting to be leaders. At the moment, the division has vacancies for unit helpers and assistant leaders. If this is something you think you may be interested in, find out more by searching online for ‘Girlguiding, register your interest’ or email

Photo of Rainbow leader Alix presenting gifts to Bryan Curry and Richard Bagenda.

Photos: 1 Rainbows’ leader Alix gives a short speech. 2 Some of the Rainbows cut the ribbon around the telephone box. 3 Presentation to Bryan Curry (left) and Richard Bagenda.

• More photos in hi-res on Facebook.

This article originally appeared in the October 2018 issue of the Stoke Gifford Journal news magazine (on pages 16 & 17). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to over 5,000 homes in Stoke Gifford, Little Stoke and Harry Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.

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