DISADVANTAGED children in Pinehurst and Penhill were treated to special festive celebrations thanks to the generosity of customers at Asda.

Shoppers at the Haydon Supercentre donated three trolleys' worth of toys and presents as part of the store’s Christmas appeal in December.

The gifts were given out to 14 young people aged between 12 and 16 years old at a traditional Christmas lunch yesterday, hosted at Pinetrees Community Centre in Pinehurst.

“I couldn’t believe the generosity,” said community centre manager Michaela Johnston.

“These are not just £2 toys people have donated. Some of the games and cuddly toys are just beautiful.”

The presents were also distributed by Penhill Community Church to 33 families on December 15 at the John Moulton Hall in Penhill.

The idea for the festive meal came after youth worker Aaron Webb asked young people in the parish about their Christmas experiences.

“Some children came back saying they just get a pizza or a burger for Christmas, or that they have to eat early and then have nothing for the rest of the day,” Michaela added.

“That just broke our hearts,” she said.

So the team at the parish council decided to cook a traditional lunch for the children and enlisted the help of Jane Atkin, community champion at Asda, to arrange for a collection of toys and presents.

Jane said: “Our customers have been so generous.

"We’re a big store and we get a lot of footfall so if we can help in any way we will.”

She added: “It’s really important for us to be part of the community and support local groups which are helping others.

“It makes my heart swell just looking at what people have donated. We are such a giving town."

Aaron added: “We wanted to give the children the opportunity to have a meal round the table and interact with each other because not all of them do at home.”

“Not many of them have a lot but this is a way for them to celebrate the goodness of Christmas."

The parish council plans to start hosting the Christmas meal as a yearly event, and include more young people in 2020.

Michaela continued: “Children may be disadvantaged for lots of reasons, perhaps because one of their parents has died or lost their job.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty at the moment in Swindon because of the situation with Honda.

“It will have such a big impact on families in Pinehurst and Penhill,” she said.