Newcastle Toy & Leisure Library

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Our History



NTLL was started in 1974 by parents of children with special needs in the West end of Newcastle. they met weekly as an informal group run by volunteers to share specialised toys and equipment.

Volunteers ran the project for the first three years until the first grant awarded to the organisation in 1977 funded a part-time worker plus equipment specifically for children with special needs.

Over a period of 32 years, NTLL was based in a number of different locations across the city including Pendower Primary School, Todd's Nook at New Mills, and Scotswood Library. Currently based in Hadrian School in Benwell, NTLL shares space and facilities with the school and has an administrative office in Thomas Bewick residential unit adjacent to the school.


NTLL has a soft play room with sensory area and a toy storage area within Hadrian School. We rent from the school their sports hall, sensory room , drama room and arts and crafts room. NTLL provides acceess to high quality educational toys and equipment for ages 0-18 years, which include specialist toys and equipment e.g. sensory equipment, bubble tubes, switch toys and positioning seats.

In 1977 NTLL became a registered charity. Charitable funding and a grant from Newcastle City Council Social Services have enabled the charity to employ 8 staff and run a range of unique services.

The charity's 30th anniversary in June 2004 was attended by patron Julia Hankin and the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Newcastle. The new logo was designed by the children representing all three aspects of the club ( Under 5's group, Activity Club and Hands of Friendship)


In February 2005 the Project Organiser, Christine Graham, was honoured for services to the voluntary sector by Prime Minister Tony Blair at a reception at 10 Downing Street.

In 2006 we launched a new toy database along with a complete catalogue with pictures of all toys. In June Pat Cant and Christine Graham were delighted to accept an invitation to join the Lord Mayor’s and others from the voluntary “at home” in the Mansion House.
We were also granted Childrens Fund money for three years to support our 5 -13 year age group

In 2007 we became a company limited by guarantee and we received another 3 three year funding from BBC Children In Need for Heather Taylors post (under 5’s).We raised money by two fundraising events. The first took place at Easter party, as a fair with lots of stalls and games everyone had lots of fun. The second event was a sponsored walk and bike ride at Newburn Leisure Centre and Country Park.

In 2008 The Toy Library was awarded a Big Lottery Children’s Play Programme grant as part of Newcastle’s portfolio. The Toy Library also became a limited company.

In 2009 a visit from BBC Newcastle’s own Charlie Charlton , reporting on our use of Children in need funding, resulted in her accepting our invitation to join us as our Patron, following Julia Hankin’s decision to stand down from her role.

We were delighted to welcome Councillor Pat Hillicks as our “Champion” within Newcastle Council.

In 2010 we were awarded BBC Children in Need funding again for  a further 3 years to support our children under 5.

Newcastle Toy Library has been taking part in a Quality Assurance Award from National Association of Toy and Leisure Libraries for the past three years. We have now successfully completed the Quality Assurance and will receive the award on November 4th 2010 in London. 2010 also sees the lauch of our website which will hopefully raise our profile and make it easier for people to contact us.

In 2013 we held a Swimathon at Elswick Pool which raised an amazing £3900 in sponsorship by all who took part. Josef Craig came along with his Olympic Gold Medal and opened the event for us.

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2014 was our 40th Anniversary year. We had a really busy year with a sponsored walk in June, celebration party at the A.G.M. in July. We welcomed back past members and friends and supporters, it was a fabulous day and really great to look back at how we have grown from 1974 until now.

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We have also been awarded grants that have enabled us to update our soft play room, and installing a hoist that will make the soft play area even more accessible. To round off our fabulous year we are had a visit from HRH The Countess of Wessex GCVO on Friday 7th November 2015. This was a fantastic day for our charity, she was shown around by Pat Cant and thoroughly enjoyed meeting our families.


In June 2015 we joined twitter you can follow us @ntll_