A dancing tree and an elf joined Santa to help spread Christmas cheer to poorly children and their families at Oxford Children's Hospital.

The ninth appeal saw more than 1,000 presents delivered to brighten up the faces of young patients, siblings and families at Oxford Children's Hospital, the neonatal care unit, Ronald McDonald House, Helen and Douglas House hospice and to children with disabilities in respite at Oxford's Viking House.

The Didcot-based charity launched its appeal in late September and has seen another successful county-wide drive with efforts even coming from as far afield as a company in Plymouth this year.

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This year, the charity has seen more presents than ever before, with more organisations, businesses, groups, schools, restaurants and shops than any previous year joining in the campaign.

Thousands of individuals also contributed gifts.

More than 350 toys, including Lego, wooden trains, play dough, bubble wands, chocolate selection boxes, action figures and baby toys were amongst the 350 gifts that poorly children spending the festive period at Children's Hospital were delivered on Friday, December 15.

The Children's Hospital has benefited from more than £100,000 from the charity's fundraising over the past 21 years.

In 2017, £40,000 funded a single patient room in Play2Give's name on the teenage ward.

It is estimated over 1,600 gifts worth £50,000 will have been received and distributed, with one Wallingford resident, Lee Crook, making a big stride in the Christmas fundraising with over £700 raised as part of a month-long 10,000-steps walk throughout November.

The Sleigh2Give initiative was created in 2015, originally as a one-off Christmas toy appeal in collaboration with Sainsbury's in Didcot.

The primary goal is to spread joy to children in hospital and hospices and to the vulnerable and less fortunate.

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Mr Baker said: “The Sleigh2Give toy drops to the hospital, including the neonatal care unit via SSNAP, are always such a special day bringing cheer to other young patients facing experiences in hospital.

“Having been a young patient, knowing just what being in hospital can be like, giving a toy or a gift to a distressed parent is such a pleasure.

"Santa and the dancing tree made it extra special joining me as Elf and it is always a highlight in the Play2Give calendar.

“With such a record-breaking year, we'd like to thank all of those across Oxfordshire and beyond for supporting this year's festive drive and for really making a difference with so much joy to those this Christmas in need and less fortunate.”