Hundreds of vulnerable children across North Tyneside will wake up to a special gift on Christmas morning thanks to a pub landlady and her customers.
Sharon Herron, landlady of The Keel Row in Seaton Delaval, launched a Christmas gift appeal to try and bring some festive cheer to 169 children and young people across the borough.
She set up a Christmas tree in the entrance to the pub with a simple premise - customers were invited to take a paper angel from the tree, each one with the name and age of a child, and come back with a gift-wrapped present.
And she was gobsmacked by the response.
On Thursday, pub staff and customers, with Santa in tow, delivered three transit vans full of presents to North Tyneside Council ready to be delivered by social services in time for Christmas.
Councillors and staff rolled up their sleeves to help unload the vans and several were moved to tears by people’s generosity as the presents stacked up.
Sharon first ran the appeal last year for children in Northumberland, after being inspired by a festive film she saw, and wanted to repeat the success in North Tyneside.
She said: “It’s been amazing. Some of our customers don’t have very much themselves - but they’ve given by whatever means they can to support people who are in need and that’s what makes it special.
“One woman bought a present using points on her Nectar card; an elderly customer bought a Playstation for a little boy; and another customer took three of the paper angels and bought bikes as well as a new Kindle for one little girl.
“People here are so generous when it comes to helping others and they get behind every charity we support; it’s just the community we live in. Nobody wants any glory, they just want to feel like they’ve made a child’s Christmas and I’m sure the children will remember it for the rest of their lives.”
She added that she’d love to see other local pubs follow suit.
The age range of the children who will benefit from the appeal is from birth to 18.
As well as the pub’s generosity, the council also received a £1,000 donation from the Whitley Bay Big Local community group to purchase gifts for young care leavers.
North Tyneside’s Elected Mayor, Norma Redfearn, said: “Words cannot express how grateful we are to Sharon and her customers, our social workers, and people in the community for their generous donations – and also to Whitley Bay Big Local for their fundraising efforts.
“Christmas is supposed to be a fun-filled time of year for children everywhere but that is not always the case and I’m sure these presents will bring real joy to some of our most vulnerable children and young people on Christmas day.”