The Hartlepool children who spared a Xmas thought for others in 1996

Jacob and Thomas Fielding, with Matthew Todd, enjoying their milk at Ward Jackson Nursery.
Jacob and Thomas Fielding, with Matthew Todd, enjoying their milk at Ward Jackson Nursery.

Christmas is, of course, very much about children.

It was certainly the case in Hartlepool 20 years ago when the youngsters of the town were making all the headlines.

Kelly Anne Rose and Clare Snell who raised money for charity in 1996.

Kelly Anne Rose and Clare Snell who raised money for charity in 1996.

Chris Cordner reports.

All they wanted for Christmas at one Hartlepool nursery school - was more children to play with.

But there was nothing wrong with the wonderful Ward Jackson nursery. It was just that flats in the area had been demolished and the whole area was being revamped.

That, coupled with a general fall in nursery numbers across the country, prompted an appeal by the Ward Jackson team, including teacher Kathy Hunt.

She said at the time: “It’s a lovely nursery with a great many facilities and is also very large.”

Did you go to Ward Jackson in the 1990s and what are your memories? Or perhaps you were a parent who took up the school’s ‘come and join us’ offer. Get in touch.

The primary school children of Hartlepool were a caring lot at Christmas 1996. Take Kelly Anne Rose, 9, and her friend Clare Snell, 10, who raised money for a national appeal that winter.

They asked the head teacher at Rift House Primary School if they could borrow the school hall one night.

And when he said yes, the girls organised a bring and buy sale which attracted friends, family and teachers. They all brought toys, books and clothes to sell. Kelly said at the time: “We wanted to help children who are worse off than we are, especially with it coming up to Christmas.”

Their efforts were so good, they attracted 100 people to the event. Head teacher Chris Coombs said: “They did a great job. It was entirely their own idea and they organised it themselves.”

The event raised money for the Blue Peter Leprosy Appeal.

Or what about the six-year-olds, also from Rift House, who visited Hartlepool General Hospital but did not want to meet doctors and nurses. Instead, they met the behind-the-scenes staff including those who operated the boiler house and the team who made the meals. They even got to decorate cakes which were fresh out of the oven.

The hospital’s plan was to take the fear out of hospital visits. Youngsters also got to visit the X-ray room, plaster theatre, accident and emergency department and children’s wards. The visit ended with a chance for children to enjoy cakes and orange juice in the Croft Restaurant.

But it was not just the children grabbing the headlines. Julia McNaught spent a year working with street children in Brazil and was back in Hartlepool to describe her adventures.

Her time in South America included getting children to be involved in dance and street drama, and to show that Brazil was much more than just football and carnivals.

But what are your memories of 1996 and the lead-up to Christmas.

Get in touch. Email chris.cordner@jpress.co.uk.