Christmas has come early for the Leighton family thanks to the generosity of Blackpool.
The family’s children, 16-year-old Shannon, Kerri Ann, 12, and Joe, seven, are just three of the hundreds of youngsters across the resort benefiting from another bumper year of The Gazette and Blackpool Council’s Give A Little campaign.
We asked you to buy one extra gift while Christmas shopping this year, to donate to children in care or families in crisis and ensure every child in Blackpool is smiling on Christmas day this year.
And thanks to the “astounding” good will of the resort 1,200 children will receive presents this year.
Young Joe squealed with delight as he ripped open his presents.
And his smiles were reflected in the faces of parents Jonathan and Paula.
The pair were worrying about making ends meet this Christmas after a two-month stint in hospital for Paula, who suffers with serious health problems, left the family without the disability and carers benefits that they rely on to simply keep food on the table and their house heated.
Paula, 34, said: “It was kind of a last dash for presents this year because we couldn’t save for them, we’ve really struggled this year.
“The generosity of people in Blackpool is amazing, I’m really thankful to everyone.”
Jonathan, 44, is Paula’s main carer, along with Shannon and Kerri Ann who are both classed as young carers.
He said: “It means a lot that they can be children, they deal with a lot.”
The family, of Victory Road, central Blackpool, were nominated by Julie Sykes, a teaching assistant at Kerri-Ann’s school, Collegiate High.
She said: “Christmas is a hard and emotional time for everybody, let alone people who are poorly or caring for a parent. The Leightons seem a strong family despite what they are going through so I wanted them to have a happy Christmas.”
The Give A Little campaign was the brainchild of Blackpool Council’s deputy leader Coun Fred Jackson and his wife Pam.
He said: “People’s generosity this year has been astounding.
“Financially, times are tough for many, so for people to come out and spend their hard earned cash on other children in the town is really heart warming. I’d like to thank each and every person who has donated something.”