CHRISTMAS has come early for these courageous Hartlepool youngsters after being chosen as the deserving winners of our annual Dear Santa competition.
Each one has battled through personal adversity and come out the other side smiling.
Their brave efforts bagged each of the four winners £250 towards the cost of Christmas after penning touching letters.
They were presented with their cheque prizes by Hartlepool Mail editor Joy Yates and Frank Atropik, the managing director of competition sponsor Niramax, at our Wesley Square base.
It was another difficult task to chose just winners after lots of young readers submitted moving letters.
Among those who received the £250 boost was Molly-Jo Short, aged seven, who wrote to ask for help for mum Barbara, 32, who gave birth to twins.
She gave birth to Lillie and Frankie less than a year after the tragic loss of her first set of twins Ava and Alfie.
Then there is Riley Smithson, 12, who will have a happy Christmas after his brother Jak, nine, was knocked down by a car.
Jak spent several weeks in hospital in intensive care and was put in a coma before making a full recovery.
Another winner is four-year-old Alfie Thompson who was entered by his school.
Despite living with Down’s Syndrome and a recent battle against a bacterial infection he does not let anything get him down and is doing well at school.
Our final winner is Jack Eglintine, five, who has not seen much of his soldier daddy Jack Leak who returning to the UK from Afghanistan was diagnosed with diabetes.
Ms Yates said: “Once again the Mail has been delighted to invite our young readers to send us their letters to Santa.
“It was a joy to meet our winners and their families and a huge thank you again to Niramax for the extremely generous £1,000 donation.
“I hope everyone has a lovely Christmas and very best wishes for 2014.”
Mr Antropik, of Niramax, said: “We are always keen to support our local community and our sponsorship of Dear Santa is an illustration of that.
“It was a very difficult task to pick just four winners this year as all the entries were very moving.
“We hope all the children and their families will have a magical Christmas.”