Tiny tots were all aglow after receiving a surprise visit from Santa Claus and his sack full of goodies.
The Kean’s Children’s Fund charity enlisted the help of Saint Nick along with a host of cartoon legends to help hand out nearly 30,000 toys to Tayside children.
As a part of the annual toy appeal, charity founder Charlie Kean donned the red suit and hat for a trip to the children’s ward at Ninewells Hospital, where children big and small struggled to contain their excitement.
With Mickey Mouse, Spiderman, Shrek and a team of reindeer in tow, Santa’s presents left kids and staff alike grinning ear to ear. According to senior charge nurse Susie Byer, some of the children were in need of a smile.
She said: “It’s always amazing to see Santa Claus. Some of the kids really need a wee treat.”
Several sacks full of donated gifts including a PlayStation 3 and dozens of new video games did just that and even the shyest children were thrilled by the charity’s Barbie Dolls, toy cars and Lego sets.
Charlie said the array of gifts was made possible by the kind donations of Tayside residents, adding: “We’ve 27,000 toys to hand out and donations are still pouring in. By Christmas, we could have as many as 35,000.”
This year, the charity’s donations were supplemented by pop superstars One Direction, who gave away £20,000 to help spread a little Christmas cheer. Some of the older kids in Ninewells were impressed that ‘Santa’ could count Zayn Malik and the rest of One Direction as close friends.
Meanwhile, kids were queuing up to sit on Santa’s lap although some were more keen to have a photo taken with Shrek or Superman.
“It’s really great to have so many people, including local students, volunteering to hand out gifts,” explained Charlie, who has spent the last decade raising more than half-a-million pounds for Tayside children. He added: “I couldn’t do it without them.”
Danny Cullen, from Dundee, said his two-year-old son Lewis would be thrilled with his gift.
“It’s really great of these guys to go out and do this,” he said. “Really great.”
Ellison Simpson, 11, was already thinking about saving for the year ahead when Santa’s reindeer handed her a shiny new piggy bank. “I really love it,” she said.
Ian Johnson, whose daughter Ella was gifted a new Barbie Doll, said the toy gave her a huge boost.
“This will really cheer her up,” he said. “She absolutely loves Barbie Dolls.”
The fun didn’t stop at Ninewells as Santa and his troupe also visited the homes of families throughout Tayside.
Mother-of-three Eilidh Devlin, 35, says the city could learn a thing or two from the charity’s incredible display of holiday spirit. She added: “It means so much to these kids to see Santa Claus and get a couple of toys. It really makes the holiday a little brighter. I wish more people would do things like that.”
Yet, with only days to go until Christmas Eve, Charlie made clear Santa and his cartoon companions still have plenty of work to do before the clock strikes midnight to welcome in Christmas Day.
He added: “The response has been amazing. Without the help of all those generous people, a lot of these kids might not get anything for Christmas. Donations are still coming in and there are thousands of toys left, so the job isn’t finished yet.”