Youngsters and staff at a nursery hit by fraud got a welcome Christmas bonus from thoughtful neighbours.
Santa and one of his helpers dropped in to Sacred Heart Pre-School Nursery on Heys Street, Thornton, to hand out gifts and goodwill.
His visit came after the nursery ended up £30,710 out of pocket when its former treasurer stole the money over a five year period.
The crime, and the fact the thief Katrina Williams, 44, was ordered by the court to pay back just £1, meant that neighbour’s felt sorry for the team and decided to help.
One elderly neighbour donated £10 from her pension, others gave toys and Linda Adams from the La Shack store at Marsh Mill arranged for a visit from Santa and a present for each child.
Nursery manager Denise Moore said she and the other Aunties who look after the 35 children were overwhelmed by the generosity.
She said: “We were absolutely amazed. Linda rang a couple of weeks ago having read the story in the Gazette saying she could not believe the outcome of the court case and wanted to help.
“But we were surprised when Santa turned up with his elf and gave beautiful wrapped presents to each child. They were made up.
“I cannot thank them enough. We have had quite a few people come forward after reading the story offering toys and an elderly lady gave us £10, which we spent on some lovely books.
“We are keeping going. It has been a struggle but our numbers are now up.”
Linda Adams, who helps organise the princess events for families at Marsh Mill, said: “This has been a very difficult time for the Nursery with s heartbreaking outcome. As my La Shack Grotto in Marsh Mill Square is only around the corner in Thornton, I wanted to give them the gift of a Santa visit.
"Santa and my daughter Liz took gifts for the 35 children and Denise was so overcome she cried.”