A YOUNG woman who brought festive joy to hundreds of hard-up families last Christmas is looking to repeat the feat this year.

Abbie Allford, 21, set up Stockings From Santa in October 2018 with the idea of sending out stockings packed with free gifts to families who otherwise would struggle to provide gifts for their children come Christmas time.

The university graduate in international business was inspired to set up the not-for-profit initiative by her mum Jacqui, who sadly passed away at the beginning of last year following a long battle with cancer.

Abbie, originally from Shrewsbury but now living in Sealand, explained: "I wanted to find a way to continue her amazing kindness, generosity and, most importantly, ridiculously contagious Christmas spirit!

"I don't think you could ever meet someone more excited for their kids to wake up on Christmas morning than my mum was. Because of this, my memories of Christmases with her will always be treasured and bring a smile to my face.

"However, I knew that this was not the case for every family, with Christmas often being a huge burden which causes a lot of stress and sleepless nights. Therefore, I wanted to find a small way to help relieve some of the pressures associated with Christmas and help those whose children may otherwise go without."

Stockings From Santa, set up by Abbie and run using her own funds, fills and posts Christmas stockings for free across the UK to families struggling and facing the reality that Santa may not be able to visit their kids this year.

Abbie added: "Running through Facebook, I have had the privilege to meet and talk to hundreds of wonderful families, and these relationships allow me to fill each stocking to meet the likes and needs of every child.

"This is important to me as I try to make sure they wake up to presents from Santa that they will truly love, to keep that Christmas magic alive for as long as possible.

"In its first year, I was able to reach 300 families and send out a total of 509 individually filled stockings. This was far beyond my initial expectations and encouraged me to do everything I could to spread the word ready for this Christmas.

"I have been overwhelmed with the love and support I have received so far, and I know that none of this would have been possible without the help of my amazing friends, family and supporters.

"I am also so appreciative of all the donations of toys, games and more that I have received. People’s generosity truly blows me away.

"Currently it is all systems go here to make sure everything is ready for this year, as requests open in October, as well as undertaking the process of becoming a registered charity.

"I am also aiming to reach out to local foodbanks and projects who may be able to pass along my information to even more deserving families. I hope this would make a positive news story and help spread the word to even more families who may need a bit of a helping hand this Christmas."

Abbie has set up a Justgiving page to raise funds for this year's Stockings From Santa at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/stockingsfromsanta.

As well as financial donations, gifts of toys, games, teddies and clothes are accepted, including second-hand gifts.

For more information on Stockings From Santa, or to find out how to help, email Abbie at stockingsfromsanta@gmail.com or visit www.facebook.com/StockingsFromSanta.