FOUR families will be waking up to a brighter Christmas tomorrow after the winners of the Mail’s Dear Santa competition were revealed.
Scores of heart-warming and at times tear-jerking letters poured into our annual competition.
There were tales of sick youngsters and other poorly family members, parents set to leave to serve their country in Afghanistan and even youngsters who were thinking of others by donating to charity.
So it was an almost impossible task for our team of judges to pick four winners.
Each has won a well-deserved £250 courtesy of Hartlepool waste management and recycling company Niramax to spend on a host of presents.
The winners were sisters Ellie, nine, and six-year-old Leah Waller, whose tragic dad Darren Waller, 36, lay dead for five months before he was found after falling asleep in a field during freezing January weather.
They share our £250 prizes with Amy Spurs, 13, whose mum Lisa Spurs, 34, is dealing with the news her 18-month-old son Harry Spurs has a rare chromosomal disorder; Stephen Hornsey, six, who helps his Multiple Sclerosis sufferer mum Patricia Gorton, 34; and Kaitlyn Crowther, nine, whose mum Nicola Crowther, 32, is coping with a long-term illness that left her bedridden over the last festive season.
The victorious youngsters descended on the Mail’s offices to receive their prizes before posing happily with smiles as wide as Santa’s waistline next to the twinkling Christmas tree in Wesley Square.
Kevin Magee, Niramax’s Tyne and Wear operations manager, said: “It’s been a fantastic privilege to be able to award these prizes just days before Christmas.
“Staff at Niramax have been very touched and humbled to read about the plight of many youngsters from Hartlepool and east Durham who entered this year’s competition.
“As a local company, we strive to support the local community and we were delighted to be involved with the Mail in helping to make a difference this Christmas.”
Hartlepool Mail editor Joy Yates said: “Every year, our young readers send Santa scores of letters and it is always heart-warming to read their stories.
“I am very grateful to Niramax for supporting our Dear Santa competition and thank everyone who took part and hope our deserving winners enjoy an extra special Christmas.”