FATHER Christmas paid a special visit to Great Western Hospital this afternoon – on the back of a motorcycle.

More than 100 riders took part in the Pinkertons' 27th annual Toy Run from Swindon Rugby Club to GWH.

Led by Wiltshire Police outriders, the massive motorcade included riders dressed in Father Christmas costumes and Cookie Monster onesies.

But it was Pinkertons member Dave Evans who donned the red suit and white beard to take the part of Santa – his sixth year of handing presents to patients on the GWH children's unit.

“Why wouldn’t you do it when you see the smiles on ill kids’ faces?” he said. “That’s what it’s all about: spreading a bit of joy at this time of year.”

On one occasion, Dave said the bikers had been struck by the kindness of one young girl, who offered to take care of a younger patient on the GWH children’s unit who said she was scared about undergoing chemotherapy in the months after Christmas. “She said, ‘I’ll look after you,’” Dave recalled. “It can be emotional. That sort of thing pulls at the heartstrings.”

Mandy Evans, Pinkertons club secretary, was the brains behind the 2018 Toy Run: “Christmas is about kids. This is something positive that we can do for the community. That’s how the Toy Run started.”

The Pinkerton’s raise cash throughout the year, spending £3,500 on toys for children of all ages. Many businesses, including staff at BMW’s plants, donate towards the toy appeal. And a fundraising day outside Debenhams in November raised £1,500 alone.