A Whitchurch childminder believes donations made by families in the town to Cuban children will help take their minds off the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma.

Beverley Allman, 46, took a full suitcase plus another bag’s worth of colouring books, pens, pencils and other goodies, last month before the biggest storm in the Atlantic’s history struck.

But the Ofsted-rated outstanding childminder, from Egerton Road, believes they are safe after hearing from hotel staff she befriended while there and hopes the gifts donated by families will help ease their pain.

“I’m friends with people at the hotel – waiters and waitresses – and they’ve let me know they’re all safe and fine,” said Bev.

“All of their families, including some of the children we saw, are safe. Our hotel was in Cayo Coco, which is mainly hotels and no one lives there.

“They live in Moron (pronounced Moran), which is where we handed out the books. It’s nice to think that we have provided equipment, books and pencils for the children to take their minds off the damage.

“We hope that in future, we can provide more like it. Cuba is a poor county, even before the hurricane and while they are happy people, they’re going to need help, including the children.

“This is a small but important step to helping them.”

Bev says she had the idea when researching her holiday with husband, Keith, but was fully supported by parents of children she looks after, who threw themselves into the project.

She couldn’t believe the response she received and insists the support of a town travel agent, Amanda Pritchard, who contacted Thomas Cook, was invaluable.

“I’d never been to Cuba but before we went, I’d read on a web blog to do with the hotel which said the children there had nothing,” she added.

“I immediately decided I wanted to do something to help and wanted the children I look after to realise not everyone is as lucky as they are.

“The response from parents was fantastic and they did their own research with their kids too. I booked a driver who took us to Moron and he took us to the poorest part of the town.

“No-one there knew we were coming, but Pepe, our driver, translated for us. I explained I was a childminder in the UK – a lady told me I had very kind eyes so I must work with children.

“I had a box in the playroom which soon was full. I asked Amanda about getting them all there and she got in touch with Thomas Cook who kindly gave us a charity bag allowance.”