PANTO star Gareth Gates has jumped at the chance to back a North-East charity’s Jolly Jumper Appeal.

The North East Autism Society (NEAS) holds its annual Jolly Jumper Appeal in the run up to Christmas as a fun way of raising funds for its vital services across the region.

And Gareth, who is starring in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at Darlington Hippodrome, was only too pleased to wear a jolly jumper during a break in rehearsals.

The Pop Idol star said: “It’s a pleasure to be supporting Jolly Jumper Day for a brilliant charity like the North East Autism Society, which does such important work in supporting autistic adults and children, along with their families. Merry Christmas!”

Meanwhile, North-East businesses have also shown their support for NEAS by putting on the style in festive knitwear.

This year’s Jolly Jumper supporters included staff at Hope Street Xchange, the University of Sunderland’s dedicated Centre for Enterprise and Innovation.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

It is the third consecutive year that Hope Street Xchange has supported the appeal, and staff were joined this year by one of their tenants at the centre, JB Contract Services.

LM Global Telecoms was another business to get behind the appeal, with staff at the company’s Newcastle and Sunderland offices getting involved.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

LM Global Telecoms has become a loyal supporter of the charity, with the company also sponsoring the epic NEAS Cycling Challenge for two years’ running. Even Ziggy, the Newcastle office pooch, joined in by wearing a jolly jumper.

Darlington and Stockton Times:

The charity also staged a combined Jolly Jumper Day and Bake-Off Challenge at its head office, in Chester-le-Street, while staff and learners joined in Bake-Off events at Thornhill Park School, in Emsworth, and New Warlands Farm, near Burnopfield.

NEAS fundraising manager, Jon Appleton, said: “Jolly Jumper Day is always a lovely way for supporters to raise some money for us, while getting into the Christmas spirit and having some fun, so thanks to everyone who took part.”