CARE leavers have been given a Christmas to remember in Ellesmere Port thanks to a huge collaborative effort involving scores of businesses and volunteers.

The Ellesmere Port Christmas Dinner project saw dozens of young care leavers aged 18-27 celebrate Christmas Day at Whitby Hall, home of Action Transport Theatre, with a festive feast.

Each of them also took away a number of special presents which aim to make a difference in their lives.

The project – the first of its kind to be held in Ellesmere Port – is the brainchild of Manchester-based poet and writer Lemn Sissay, whose recent TV documentary shone a light on the challenges faced by children within the care system.

The Christmas dinner project was set up by him to ensure young care leavers enjoy, in his words, a "life-changing, lifesaving experience of warmth in abundance".

A video of Ellesmere Port's efforts has been published online, with Lemn commenting on social media: "The first of the Christmas Dinner videos captures the spirit."

Ellesmere Port Christmas Dinner project director Graham Lister said: "This has been a really special project that has connected many different people together, a really great example of a local community rallying to do something brilliant.

"We are of course enormously grateful to everyone who donated money, gave up their time for free or bought gifts for our guests, also to the many families who tipped up on Christmas Eve to help wrap presents, including the very special lady who at the 11th hour decided to paint the ladies toilet!

"This year we managed to exceed our fundraising target so we will be using this money to ensure next year's Ellesmere Port Christmas Dinner is an even greater success."

As well as the many donors and volunteers who helped to make the project possible, local businesses which showed their support include BAI Claims Services limited, Qwest Services, Active Cheshire, Susan Kitchen Aesthetics, Riverford Veg, Geoff Hughes Family Butchers, Cheshire West and Chester Council, Meltdown Chester, The Cheshire Dining Experience, Cheshire Farm Ice Cream, Essar, PRS Telecom Ltd, Storyhouse, M&S, Flipside Radio, Good For Nothing Chester, Burleydam Garden Centre, Doll Beauty, JC Joel, Big Heritage, Co-op, Spark Creatives, Bennett’s Associates, Precision Decorators, Chorlton Trade Paints, Reclaimed World, Queen's Park High School, the University of Chester and Edsential.