A SCHOOL has been spreading some much-needed festive cheer in the community after it was forced to cancel its annual community Christmas party for senior citizens because of coronavirus restrictions.

Every year, Smithills staff and pupils serve up a traditional Christmas dinner complete with entertainment for dozens of local residents.

But because that could not go ahead this year, staff suggested the school take a little Christmas cheer to their doorsteps during what has been a tough year for everyone.

So 76 gift bags were packed up with festive goodies, a potted hyacinth plant, Smithills tree decoration and Smithills School’s Christmas card, designed by Year Seven pupils, together with the whole school’s best wishes, and distributed.

Site manager Dave Appleton helped deliver the gift bags with help from support staff.

He said: "It was truly wonderful seeing so many people from the Smithills community thanking us for brightening up their week.”

After completing his festive round, he brought back messages of thanks and appreciation.

Mr Appleton said one woman told him: “This has well and truly made up for such an awful year. I can’t thank the staff and pupils at the school enough for doing this for us.”

School business manager Alice Lees, who helped organise the festive treats, said: “With Covid still at large, we didn’t want our community missing out on the festivities we love sharing during this time of year.

"A few members of staff came to me and asked if we could produce some gift bags full of goodies and personally deliver them to the community, as we couldn’t hold our tradition Christmas party this year. It was a no-brainer really and we started putting the gift bags together”.

The team included the catering staff for making 160 shortbread Christmas trees and snowmen as well as shortbread fingers in the hot chocolate treats ­- and bagging the marshmallows.