CHILDREN at Houghton Primary School found themselves the stars of breakfast TV yesterday (Tuesday) after they were chosen to front a campaign to help less fortunate families at Christmas.

The youngsters appeared alongside presenter Nick Dixon to launch ITV Daybreak's Donate A Coat campaign. The campaign, run in conjunction with the Salvation Army, is encouraging viewers to donate a coat for elderly people and families who would otherwise struggle to afford a coat this winter.

Pupils at Houghton got the ball rolling by collecting nearly 200 coats in a week. Twenty-five children were then chosen at random from the 60-pupil-cohort to join the crew for the early morning filming.

Headteacher Georgina Young said despite the 6am start, the children and staff enjoyed the experience. "We couldn't have all the children here, but we did a draw based on the number of coats each child had brought in.

"Nick Dixon and the team that came were fantastic. They chatted to the children and involved them the whole way through the process.

"Because it was live, Nick Dixon talked to them about being confident, speaking up and smiling, and he did a few rehearsals.

"The children wrote notes to put in pockets so they could wish the people receiving the coats a happy Christmas. They were tired first thing this morning, but it was exciting, for them and for us, seeing how the whole filming process happened."

Mrs Young was approached by the Daybreak team to get involved with the Donate A Coat campaign as pupils and staff had impressed the crew when they helped to promote the RSPB's Big Bird Watch last January.

Mrs Young said: "We felt the idea was excellent and something schools could get behind, because of the nature of the appeal - we are supporting families in need.

"And we are not asking people to donate money or do a sponsored event. We have been collecting coats since last week and just within a week we have collected 200. People have been really generous."

The school are continuing to collect coats and will then pass on the donations to the Salvation Army. The Donate A Coat appeal ends on December 2.