STAFF and councillors at East Hampshire District Council (EHDC) bought more than 200 presents to enhance the festive experience for children in the district having a hard time this Christmas.

The presents have been wrapped and delivered to children whose names had been put forward by local schools and charities.

Julie Butler, EHDC’s portfolio holder for customer relations, said: “We know there are some children in the district having a tough time and if we can bring them a little cheer by giving them a present then we are more than happy to do that.

“I am so proud that EHDC staff and councillors really got behind this scheme and bought more than 200 gifts.

“It’s wonderful to feel you can make a little difference and bring a little happiness to so many children over Christmas.”

And in Alton, town mayor Dean Phillips joined forces with Alton (Convent) School and doubled up by matching every gift bought by council staff and councillors with a second gift.

Mr Phillips said: “Many of the children put forward for the scheme are from Alton so I thought it would be welcome if I could add a further gift of my own to the collection. I would like to thank Alton School for putting money raised through their carol concert to supporting me.

“Christmas is such an important time and I would hate to feel some boys and girls might be missing out. And who better to spread a bit of Christmas cheer around the town than the mayor!”

The scheme was arranged by the Alton Buckle Local Children’s Partnership which works with schools and charities.

The partnership provided a list of children, including first names, ages and genders, allowing staff and councillors to pick out an appropriate present.

The gifts from EHDC staff and councillors and from Mr Phillips were handed on to the partnership which will then deliver them to the children for a wonderful surprise on Christmas Day.

Jen Hammersley, of the Local Children’s Partnership, arranged the scheme.

She said: “Thank you so much to everyone at EHDC and to the mayor of Alton for your kindness and generosity over the Christmas holiday.

“The presents you bought will mean so much to those children who otherwise would not have received any.

“They will bring smiles and happiness and give the children a feeling they have not been forgotten.”