A CHARITY which spreads festive cheer to children in hospitals across the region – including Airedale – has launched its 2023 Christmas appeal.

Yorkshire Children’s Trust has now been supporting hospitalised youngsters over the festive period for a decade.

The aim of its annual campaign is to ensure no child wakes up in hospital on Christmas morning without a present to open.

As in previous years, businesses are once again being urged to rally round and back the initiative.

And 'Santa Blake' will be out and about giving his support.

His services can be hired for free, but with a suggested donation to the charity.

Over the years he has helped to raise more than £18,000, and this time hopes to break through the £20,000 mark.

Santa Blake will also be accompanying Christmas elves from the charity to provide a grotto experience at Calderdale Hospital and Bradford Royal Infirmary in December, and carry out gift drops at Airedale, plus Pinderfields and Dewsbury hospitals and the children’s cancer ward at Leeds General Infirmary.

Businesses are being encouraged to get involved by donating gifts.

These will then be wrapped and distributed to young hospital patients over the festive period.

Gifts should be new, valued at under £10, in their original wrapping and not unduly large or heavy.

Yorkshire Children's Trust founder, Simon Widdop, says: "We appreciate that everyone is feeling the pinch this year, but we need people's help more than ever before.

"So many children spend Christmastime in hospital, which can make them feel sad and lonely. Not only does the grotto experience provide some escape from the monotony of sometimes intense treatment regimes, but it brings genuine joy and tears of happiness to the faces of the children as they don’t expect to see Santa in the hospital!"

Any companies wishing to support the appeal are asked to call Simon on 01422 728080 or email simon@yctrust.org to book a drop-off slot for the donated gifts. Slots are being staggered throughout next month and early December.

The charity also welcomes monetary donations, via text, to support its work.

To donate £3, text XMASGIFT 3 to 70085.

Yorkshire Children's Trust was established by two sets of parents, including the Widdops, whose children were suffering from leukaemia.

The charity helps children and their families cope with the emotional and financial strain of life-changing illnesses.

For further information about its work, go to yctrust.uk.