HUNDREDS of poorly children’s faces lit up when they were visited by Santa and his “army” of helpers.
Father Christmas and his assistants visited Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) and dished out a present to every child on every ward.
It started off as an idea by Peterlee woman Sharon Wood, 43, to brighten up Christmas for Blackhall cancer sufferer Bradley Lowery and other young patients on his ward.
But after the amount of presents snowballed, as reported by the Mail on Thursday, with an astonishing 411 presents handed to Sharon, there was enough to go around all the children.
Sharon, along with her husband Stuart and daughter Katie, 16, and Jackie and Becky Turner, and Lynne Jolly, transformed themselves into Bradley’s Christmas Army and handed out presents with Father Christmas, otherwise known as Kevin Barker, who grows his beard each year and appears as Santa to raise money for charity.
Sharon, who is also mum to 10-year-old Lucy Wood, who is treated for Multiple Sclerosis at the hospital, said: “It was the most special day I have ever witnessed.
“I have never stopped crying since I got home.
“There were such highs but also such shock to see such poorly kids.”
Sharon, of O’Neill Drive, Peterlee, said it was particularly “heartbreaking” to visit the hospital’s ‘bubble’ unit, where young patients with immunity problems, including children from as far as Nigeria and Norway, have limited contact with the outside world.
“I came out of the hospital thinking I’ll never be the same again,” said Sharon.
“With all the years I have been taking Lucy to the hospital, nothing can compare to going to the bubble unit.”
She added: “It was a really special day and I’m chuffed to bits that we have been able to do what we have.
“The reaction and lift it gave to parents was just priceless and the nurses said they couldn’t thank us enough.”
Sharon thanked Santa and her fellow “Army” members as well as all who donated gifts.