Hayling Island funfair raises £2,000 so thrillseeker with learning disability can go on dream trip to Disneyland

Jimmy Cogger, Robbie Alexander, Lenny the Elf, aka Danny Foran, and Sue Alexander. Picture: Keith Woodland (051019-2)
Jimmy Cogger, Robbie Alexander, Lenny the Elf, aka Danny Foran, and Sue Alexander. Picture: Keith Woodland (051019-2)
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A THRILLSEEKER is being sent on a dream 50th birthday Disneyland trip after the fairground community rallied to raise funds.

Robbie Alexander, who has an undiagnosed condition which means he has a younger mental age, loves rollercoasters and has been a patron of Funland Hayling Island for nearly 40 years.

Robbie Alexander. Picture: Keith Woodland (051019-61)

Robbie Alexander. Picture: Keith Woodland (051019-61)

Together with mum Sue, the 49-year-old visits Funland at least once a week and is well-known by staff in fairgrounds around the country including Paulton’s Park and Clarence Pier.

One of Funland’s owners, Jimmy Cogger, decided to start fundraising for a special trip to Disneyland Paris for Robbie’s 50th birthday next May.

Jimmy said: ‘He just lives for the rides, nothing scares Robbie at all. It’s hard for Sue, she’s never had it easy so I thought “wouldn’t it be good if she had a rest?”

‘We just thought it would be nice to do something for them for his big birthday. The more money we can raise, the better hotel they can stay in.’

Robbie and Lenny the Elf. Picture: Keith Woodland (051019-13)

Robbie and Lenny the Elf. Picture: Keith Woodland (051019-13)

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Sue, 70, has been left gobsmacked and feeling honoured as more than £2,000 has already been raised for the pair, who don’t pay for rides at Funland anymore since Robbie was given a solid gold wristband for lifetime rides.

‘It’s brilliant, they’re amazing. They’re sort of like family in a way. That was one of the first places we went with Robbie when he was 11.’ said Sue.

‘It just makes him happy, he gets the thrill. They all know him so they all speak to him and acknowledge him, so it’s that but it’s also the adrenaline. It makes him happy so it makes me happy.’

Lenny the Elf, aka Danny Foran. Picture: Keith Woodland (051019-39)

Lenny the Elf, aka Danny Foran. Picture: Keith Woodland (051019-39)

Funland supervisor Danny Foran has put more into the fundraising than most by legally changing his name to Leonard T. Elf when the funds reached £1,000, and Leonard will be joining the pair at Disneyland Paris as Robbie’s ride carer.

Sue said: ‘We’ve known Danny for a long time and he’s brilliant with Robbie.

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‘It’ll be amazing because Robbie loves Disney, I think it’s amazing, I’m just gobsmacked by everything.

Sue and Robbie Alexander. Picture: Keith Woodland (051019-43)

Sue and Robbie Alexander. Picture: Keith Woodland (051019-43)

‘I feel very honoured that everyone thinks so much of Robbie.’

Ryan Kendall, who runs one of the cafés on site, said: ‘We just wanted to do something big for them, they’re a face of the park. They’re lovely people, Sue is absolutely amazing.’

To donate to Robbie’s trip, visit justgiving.com/crowdfunding/robbiealexander

Introducing Lenny the Elf

‘It was one of those mad moments.’

This is what Funland supervisor Danny Foran has to say about his decision to legally change his name by deed poll to match his Funland character Lenny the Elf - but he doesn’t regret it at all.

He will also be dressing as Lenny for 365 days if the fundraising reaches £2,500, which should be very soon, in support of Robbie’s dream trip.

The 46-year-old said: ‘One of the second or third times Robbie came to Funland, he was unsure of going on the rollercoaster so I went on a couple of times with him and we just clicked.’

Danny used to go on his tea breaks when he knew Robbie was in the park so they could enjoy rides together, and makes sure to play Robbie’s favourite disco and pop music when he visits Funland.

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‘I once said if Sue could no longer care for him I’d give everything up and look after him. I feel that much of a connection with him and I’m proud to call him my friend. He’s much-loved by the whole industry,’ said father-of-five Danny.

On a recent staff trip to Drayton Manor theme park, Robbie went along with the team and spent the day on rollercoasters with them.

Danny, who will be in character as Lenny the Elf for a whole year, is excited to accompany Robbie and Sue to Disneyland Paris for the birthday trip.

He is also appealing for donations of old winter clothing which can be turned into elf costumes, so he has enough to wear all year.