Bid now for Yorkshire’s most exclusive gifts, and help soldiers in need

TODAY marks the launch of the Yorkshire Post Christmas appeal online auction where readers can bid for some of the most exclusive presents in the region to help raise funds for our soldiers in need.

Over the next five weeks, 50 unique lots will go under the hammer in our exciting online auction that will make special gifts for others – or even yourself – with all proceeds going to ABF - The Soldiers’ Charity which is battling to care for soldiers and their families at a time of unprecedented need.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

In the past year, the charity has seen a 50 per cent leap in the number of Army families seeking its help, alongside a rocketing number of individual cases. More on the appeal and video report »

And with all four battalions of the Yorkshire Regiment braced to be deployed to Afghanistan next year in a military commitment from the region the size of which has not been witnessed since World War Two, the charity, which was founded in 1944, needs to double its annual income from £7m to £14m by 2015, to cope with the sheer scale of soldiers in need of its support.

Jonathan Riley, senior partner of Grant Thornton, Leeds-based leading business and financial advisers which is sponsoring the appeal, said: “Once again Grant Thornton is proudly supporting the Yorkshire Post Christmas Charity Auction, which has become one of the biggest charity campaigns in the region.

“This year we’re delighted that the appeal is supporting ABF – The Soldiers’ Charity, a cause which supports soldiers and their families across Yorkshire.

“We’re indebted to these brave men and women and I’d urge everyone who can to show their support for the charity through this year’s auction.

“Our armed forces show their courage and generosity every day in wars around the world and I’d ask everyone who can to support this charity and show their support in return.

“And with so many exciting prizes on offer this year, there is something for everyone.”

Among the pick of this week’s 10 lots, are tickets for the 2012 Commissioning Parade at the British Army’s Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst in Surrey.

The Sovereign’s Parade at the end of each term marks the passing out of officer cadets who have completed the commissioning course and is the grandest day in the Sandhurst calendar as the cadets march up the steps of the Old College in front of family, friends and VIPs.

After a formal lunch, the day concludes in spectacular fashion at the exclusive Commissioning Ball, where, at the stroke of midnight, the newly commissioned Second Lieutenants proudly display their rank insignia for the first time.

Also on offer, is a seven course tasting meal for two at the Michelin-starred Black Swan at Oldstead, near Byland Abbey, in the heart of rural North Yorkshire.

Yorkshire boasts the highest number of Michelin starred restaurants outside London and the Black Swan has gained plaudits for its stunning rural location and innovative dishes made with top quality ingredients and sourced from local producers.

Readers can also bid for a VIP box containing four seats for Harrogate Theatre’s Christmas Pantomime Beauty and the Beast. This exclusive prize also includes free ice-cream, a souvenir programme and a backstage tour.

Elsewhere, people can bid for a luxury Gainford hamper brimming with delicious food and drink items including regional favourites such as Yorkshire Brack.

A Playstation 3 console and three games, is also available and would make an ideal Christmas present for a loved one.

New lots will be announced every week until December 10 to help raise funds for the appeal.

This week’s auctions close around 5pm on Friday, November 18.