SANTA and a council chairman joined forces to bring festive cheer to children spending the countdown to Christmas in hospital.

Father Christmas and Councillor Pauline Charlton, chairman of Durham County Council, visited youngsters on the Treetops children’s ward at the University Hospital of North Durham (UHND), in Durham City.

They delivered presents donated by staff from the council’s Peterlee depot, East Durham Homes and Durham City Homes.

Coun Charlton said: “Treetops ward at UHND is one of my chosen charities.

“It was an absolute pleasure spending my afternoon talking to the children and giving them gifts. Their smiles made my day.”

Neighbourhood warden Steven Stocks, who organised the visit with colleague Kendra Milne, said: “Christmas is an exciting time of the year, especially for children.

“There are lots of poorly children in hospital at Christmas time so we wanted to make their Christmas as special as it can be.

“The children were delighted and so excited to meet Santa.”