DEDICATED fundraisers arrived at two city hospitals bearing gifts to brighten up the festive period for children facing spending Christmas on the wards.

The annual 'Sleigh2Give' and 'Secret Santa' campaigns both saw generous members of the public donate thousands of toys and presents, which were handed out by volunteers.

The two visits in recent days came after Father Christmas ditched his traditional sleigh for a Puma HC2 helicopter in a flying visit to the Oxford Children's Hospital earlier this month as part of an annual training exercise organised by RAF Benson.

Volunteers from Play2Give, including mayor of Didcot, Jackie Billington, arrived at the Children's Hospital at the John Radcliffe Hospital site in Headington on Sunday in four Go Green Taxis packed full of gifts.

The company sponsored the present-drive and leant the services of its vehicles.

The presents were then given out to youngsters including those on the cancer treatment ward.

Andy Baker, the founder of Play2Give, said: "We met one boy whose mum said he had not smiled all day.

"But as soon as we gave him a soft toy, he broke in to a grin, it was really lovely and heart-warming."

Mr Baker estimates that donations for the third annual Sleigh to Give surpassed those of last year, with businesses and schools helping out including local charity Changing Lives,which chipped in £2,700.

Didcot's Secret Santa Courtney Hughes collected so many presents this year that she needed a shipping container to house them all.

The 19-year-old, who works at Didcot Community Hospital, launched her Christmas charity collection when she was just 13, after her great-grandmother Elise Richardson was stuck in hospital over Christmas.

The campaign has grown ever since and 1,200 presents were collected this year.

Some of them were dropped off at the neonatal unit at the John Radcliffe on Friday and the rest are being distributed to hospices, hospitals and care homes across the county.

Miss Hughes said: "We want to make the children feel more comfortable over Christmas and our aim is to help them enjoy it in any way we can."

The nursing assistant, who has been given various awards for her efforts, recently announced that the gift-giving would be expanded year-round with items recently donated to homeless people.

A host of RAF personnel accompanied Santa as he touched down in style on the helipad at the John Radcliffe on December 12.

Flt Lt Paul Mackay, a Puma pilot who organised the event, said he was 'thrilled' to take part.

He added: “Many of our families and friends have benefited from the fantastic care and support given by the hospital and its staff so we are delighted to be able to give something back."