TWO hundred gift-wrapped presents and boxes containing hundreds of items of clothing, pencils, paper, books and other basic items have helped to make it a Christmas to remember for two sets of children living 5,000 miles apart ... and it’s all thanks to Hunts Post readers.

Your generosity means our two campaigns - one an appeal for everyday items for children at the Searchlight orphanage in Malawi, and the other our annual Holly's Little Helpers appeal for children spending Christmas on Holly Ward at Hinchingbrooke Hospital - were a huge success.

The Malawi appeal was launched in collaboration with Tahlia Best, 24, of Eynesbury, who travelled to the orphanage in Kambona in September to undertake voluntary work.

She told The Hunts Post that the appeal changed the children's lives.

"The children went wild when the boxes arrived, they were so happy," she said. "Things had been really hard until then. They needed the clothes as the ones they had were ripped. When they were initially given the items they had to be reassured they could actually keep them - they were so worried they were going to be taken away."

Pastor Duncan Nyozani, who set up the Searchlight Orphan Care charity, added: "These have been great days for these children because they now have almost everything they need - they are now well-looking with smiling faces. The goods have really improved our orphanage and impacted on their lives.

"They are excited to see that they have friends there in UK who have relieved them, and they send millions of thanks to all those people who donated.

"I also thank The Hunts Post very much for the support you have given us - you have really made people aware of our small organisation. Merry Christmas to you all."

Back in Huntingdonshire, Hunts Post readers were putting smiles on the faces of children at Holly Ward. An astonishing 200 gifts were donated to the Holly's Little Helpers appeal.

Christine Luckham, ward sister, said: "We can't thank The Hunts Post readers enough and we really appreciate all their effort. We also want to thank Santa for taking time out of his busy schedule.

"Making these children smile somehow detracts from their stay in hospital and we want to thank everyone involved very much."

Well, on Thursday (December 20) those gifts were delivered and clearly appreciated as little faces beamed with joy when Father Christmas visited the ward to the delight of children and parents.

Eight-year-old Kayleigh Olsen, who had been in hospital since the beginning of December, said the most exciting thing for her about Christmas was being able to go home for the big day.

And Charlie Race-Carrington, aged six, of Fenstanton. said that he wasn't sure whether or not he would be getting everything on his Christmas list.

"I'm most excited about opening my presents," he said. "I want a remote controlled aeroplane, Star Wars Lego and a Power Rangers Outfit."

Gifts ranged from teddy bears and Lego sets to colouring books, dolls and games.