Santa Claus came to South Woodham Ferrers to give presents to residents at two care homes.

A group of selfless people appealed to the community to donate presents which they delivered to Windle Court and Eastham care homes.

Neil Casey, 50, one of the organisers of the donations, said: “We try to bring some joy at a difficult time when the residents often are alone and don’t have family or any visitors, or if they do they are too ill or infirm to go out for the day.

“Of course, many do have visitors or are taken out for the day.

“Every year the community rallies around us fantastically and astound me with their kindness and generosity.”

The group started gathering gifts for the residents at Windle Court care home four years ago.

The idea originally came about after Neil took part in the Maldon Park Run on Christmas Day in 2014 dressed as Santa.

He was given a huge collection of chocolates and biscuits, and instead of taking the goodies for himself, he donated them to Windle Court.

Neil said: “I heard many of the residents did not have family and were alone over Christmas.

“I got home and decided it would be nice to do it properly the next year with more people and try and give everyone a present – not just residents, but staff as well who all work so hard.

“This year we had nearly 300 presents donated, which is incredible.” For the last four years Neil and partners Paul Wallis and Jess Shepher-Green only visited Windle Court, in the Withywindle.

This year they also decided to take presents to Eastham, in Main Road.

The home’s 24 residents and 30 staff all received presents.

Neil said he hoped the event “brightened up their day”.

He added: “We do this because it brightens our Christmas and I love the elderly.

“I love hearing their stories and I am so thankful for them making this country great and for the sacrifices many have made in order to do so.

“The look of joy on some of the residents when we visit, hand them gifts and tell them the local community are thinking about them is priceless.

“They really appreciate it and it makes my Christmas.”