Meet the Christmas angels chosen to switch on shopping centre’s festive lights...

Darren Powell and Toby Nye
Darren Powell and Toby Nye

Christmas angels will spread festive cheer after being chosen to turn on The Ridings’ lights.

Community fundraiser Darren Powell, brave cancer-fighting youngster Toby Nye and caring schoolgirl Megan Rodd will take to the stage to do the all important switch on tomorrow afternoon.

Megan Rodd

Megan Rodd

The Express teamed up with the shopping centre to shine a light on deserving heroes across our district.

We asked people to nominate their local champions.

And after whittling down the shortlist, these three winning angels will have their efforts recognised.

Darren and Toby come as a team, with the four-year-old Leeds youngster being honoured for his bravery, and 31-year-old Mr Powell, from Hall Green, being thanked for his hard work in helping Toby’s family raise money for life-saving treatment.

Ten-year-old Ossett schoolgirl Megan meanwhile has been awarded the honour for her charity work and dedication to helping others.

Sara Hassan, marketing manager at The Ridings, said: “We had scores of nominations for both Toby and Darren but it was Toby’s mum’s nomination for both of them that really touched us.

“She described Toby’s bravery as he fights the awful disease Neuroblastoma and Darren’s support for the family in their mission to fund much needed treatment which is not available on the NHS.”

Sara added: “When recently asked why she does what she does, Megan’s answer was simple - ‘because I want to help people and make our world a better place’.

“She’s won numerous other awards for her work but we want to recognise her and give her a massive thank you from Wakefield for setting such an amazing example to the local community.”

The trio have been named ‘Wakefield Angels’ as the shopping centre recently became home to the UK’s first ever Global Angel Wings street art, by Colette Miller.

The giant wings are painted on the wall of the centre’s Cathedral entrance, and people can have their photo taken with them, posing as angels.

The Ridings’ switch on event begins at noon tomorrow. Heart Breakfast presenters Dixie and Emma will host an afternoon of entertainment featuring Wakefield Trinity players, X Factor’s Lucy Spraggan, Britain’s Got Talent Impressionist Francine Lewis and local performers and community groups.

Our angel trio will turn on the lights just before 3pm.

They will also each receive a Christmas hamper and The Ridings will also make a £100 donation to two of their chosen local charities.


On January 6, as Toby celebrated his fourth birthday, his family were given the devastating news that he had Stage 4 Neuroblastoma cancer.

Since then, Toby has undergone intensive chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment, and a 10 hour operation to remove a tumour from his kidney.

And in September he was re-admitted to hospital to start stronger chemotherapy and undergo a stem cell transplant. His treatment has made him very poorly, at time unable to eat or move, and has left him suffering with severe vomiting and pain.

Toby’s mum Stacey Worsley says that despite everything he has been through, Toby takes everything in his stride and is always smiling.

Toby’s family are trying to raise £200,000 to pay for antibody therapy not currently widely available on the NHS.

One person who has been working tirelessly to support the fundraising drive is Darren Powell.

He has organised community fun days and even shaved off his own hair.

Darren, who was also nominated for a Pride of Britain award, has donated more than £40m,000 for charities and good causes, including Macmillan Cancer Support, Wakefield Hospice, the British Heart Foundation and the Bradley Lowery fund, as well as to Toby.


Megan, from Dewsbury, has raised more than £12,000 for charity, after making it her life’s mission to help others.

At the age of just six she climbed Ben Nevis.

And her other fundraising challenges have included running 60 miles in four days, climbing Snowdon, and cycling 77 miles from Leeds to Warrington.

Megan, who goes to school in Ossett, also carries out random acts of kindness and spends her own pocket money on helping others.

On a recent trip to New York, she distributed gloves, scarves, books and good to homeless people.

And after seeing a post about a local lady being mugged on her way to church, Megan bought her a new bag, purse, and flowers and gifted the woman her £10 pocket money.