CHRISTMAS stockings were not big enough to hold all the gifts donated by kind-hearted students to their new ‘adopted grandparents’.

Youngsters at Westhoughton High School recently struck up friendships across the generational divide via a pen pal scheme with older persons support group, Senior Solutions.

The 38 forms at the school have each linked with an older person who is a client of the Winifred Kettle House-based charity.

And they went all-out to spread some Christmas cheer to their adopted grannies and grandads — donating so many gifts that traditional stockings had to be upgraded for large boxes.

Mark Webster, leader of learning for religion, society and values at Westhoughton High, said students’ generosity had been ‘phenomenal’.

“Last week it just went into overdrive. We were meant to be taking them to Senior Solutions’ social group party, but in the end we had to get a load of boxes and deliver them to houses,” he said.

The students’ kind-hearted gestures were appreciated by their older pen pals.

“They were very, very made-up,” said Mr Webster. “There were a lot of tears at times and it was lovely because they invited the students in.”

The school also held a Christmas meal for senior citizens before they got the chance to watch the school show Alice in Pantoland. And some students went along to Senior Solutions’ Christmas Party.

They spoke of their joy at spreading some Christmas cheer to the older generation. Ceri Phenna, of Year 11, said: “Seeing Ann and Dave’s faces when they received their presents brought me a pure joy I can’t really describe.”

Year nine student Annie Eaton added: “The Christmas party was so fantastic, watching people’s faces all light up with happiness and joy. I really hope to do this again.”

Headteacher Philip Hart said he was ‘very proud’ of what the school had achieved.

He said: “I don’t think when we set off on this just how powerful this particular venture was going to be. I’m very pleased and very proud of our young people.”

He continued: “We have given our young people a voice in our community and they’ve stepped up to the mark fantastically well.”

Michelle Todd, scheme manager at Senior Solutions, said: “One lady was moved to tears when they turned up on their doorstep and handed the presents over. Some invited teachers and children in for a cup of tea as well

“Another said she couldn’t believe people were so generous and the generosity shone through with the children being of such a young age.”

And Ms Todd also told of how the family of one student invited an elderly lady for Christmas after learning she was not sure if she would have company on Christmas Day.