THERE was a very special delivery for youngsters stuck in hospital this Christmas, thanks to the kind-hearted staff at Royal Mail in Shirley.

A team of seven postmen and women, led by Father Christmas, paid a visit to Southampton General Hospital's children's ward to hand out presents.

Postman Paul Davies said: "We have raised money to buy Christmas presents for children at the hospital for over 30 years now. It all started with my uncle Harry Peters and a group of his Royal Mail colleagues and it has become an annual event."

The cash for the gifts was raised through a series of raffles at the delivery office in Shirley Road.

Diane Barnes, delivery office manager, said: "Postmen and women dig deep into their pockets every year to ensure the money is raised to buy presents for all the children who are likely to spend Christmas in hospital.

"As well as the support we give to them, Paul and his helpers put in a lot of their own time. Their reward is seeing the smiles on the children's faces."