A TEACHING service has performed a class act as it helps out Oxfordshire's favourite Secret Santa by donating 400 gifts for adults and children to open on Christmas Day.

For five years Didcot teenager Courtney Hughes has been spreading smiles across residents' faces with her annual gift appeal.

But what started off as a small appeal after her great grandmother was stuck in hospital over Christmas, has grown to an event where 4,000 gifts were delivered to families in need last year.

When Class Act Teaching Services, based near Drayton, heard about the 18-year-old's work, the company felt 'they just had to get involved.'

Clare Adams-Yewer, branch manager, said: "We come into contact with thousands of children and families each year.

"We appreciate that some families face challenging situations and when we read about the work being done by Courtney we made an instant decision to get involved.

"After a short appeal and with the support of our supply teachers and office team we were astounded when we counted up all the donations and found that over 400 children and adults will now have a present to open on Christmas Day."

Miss Hughes, who lives in Great Western Drive, added: "When Class Act Teaching Services first offered to help we hoped we might get between 50 and 100 presents from them.

"To get 400 gifts is really amazing and this means that we can now provide a present for even more people in our community."

But this is not the first time this year that the teaching service has stepped in to support families.

In September the entire team supported the Readathon at Milton Manor. which was attended by 3,000 people.

More recently as a sponsor of the Oxford City Stars and Junior Stars, the service has provided free child tickets for the ice hockey match at Oxpens.

Ms Adams-Yewer added: "We are a family company providing primary supply teachers but we are very committed to supporting children outside the school environment and these community activities are a perfect way to show support."

The former Didcot Girls' School pupil was presented with a British Citizen Award for her volunteering in July and was chosen as the UK #GivingTuesday champion of 2016.

She will be handing out those presents and thousands of others at care homes, hospitals and hospices across Oxfordshire this Christmas.

The list includes Didcot Community Hospital, The Meadows care home in Didcot, Sobell House hospice in Oxford and homeless charity Crisis, also in the city.

To find out more about this year's Secret Santa collection or offer a donation visit: facebook.com/charitysecretsanta