Marvellous grotto is a smash hit with children

Marvels and Meltdowns hosted its first Christmas grotto for 43 children Picture: Malcolm Wells (151211-3439)
Marvels and Meltdowns hosted its first Christmas grotto for 43 children Picture: Malcolm Wells (151211-3439)
(Back, l-r) Nurses Linda Page and Laura Cleverley and doctors Becca Allan and Anne Hounsell, with (front, l-r) chaplain Carol Gully, doctor Katie Jerram and nurse Mellissa Bell             Picture: Vernon Nash

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SEEING Father Christmas is something children love.

But for some youngsters with autism or ADHD, large crowds and excited youngsters can be too much.

That is why charity Marvels and Meltdowns decided to hold its own Santa’s Grotto event.

The group supports and shares information with parents of children with autism and ADHD.

Shandrika Day, one of the founders, said it was a lovely afternoon.

‘Something children with autism or ADHD struggle with is standing in queues for a long time or being in a noisy crowd,’ she said.

‘Both these situations are quite common at Santa grottos so we wanted to hold our own. It was a quiet, laid-back event and the children really enjoyed themselves.’

The group, based in Gosport, was given £300 by Asda to spend on presents and Johnny Reilly, of event company Reilly Enterprises, donated the grotto for free.

There were arts and crafts for the children to do while others saw Father Christmas in groups of 10.

Shandrika added: ‘Johnny was amazing as Father Christmas.

‘With one child who didn’t want to approach him, he went and took the present over to them.

‘It is small things like that which make all the difference to a child with autism or ADHD.’

This is the first time that Marvels and Meltdowns has held an event like this having only formed two years ago.

It became a registered charity in November and parents say they appreciate the work it does.

Mum-of-three Ria Watch said: ‘All of my boys loved seeing Father Christmas.

‘They didn’t want to do the crafts, but it was nice that they weren’t pressured to either.

‘Father Christmas himself was very patient and understanding and gave them lovely gifts.’

Carla Thorpe added: ‘It was a wonderful evening and the kids loved getting their present.

‘I thought it was great that the Father Christmas knew so much about the kids and my daughter Codie was even telling her grandma and grandad that he knew so much.’