GENEROUS Stretford shoppers have raised hundreds of pounds for a children’s hospice by making a wish while visiting a Santa’s grotto.

Francis House Children’s Hospice will be receiving a cheque for more than £400 gathered from the wishing well at Stretford Mall’s grotto over the festive period.

One person who will be glad to hear the news is Val Kilgour, who describes the hospice as a ‘house of angels’ which cared for her daughter Charlene until she died aged 27 in 2013.

Charlene was born with a rare and serious condition called congenital olivio cerebellar atrophy which meant she was wheelchair-bound and totally dependent on mum Val and dad Paul because she couldn’t do anything for herself.

Although Charlene lived with her parents at home in a specially adapted room, she received regular respite care at the Disbury based Francis House from the age of 12.

Val, who also has a son, Craig, 38, and two grandchildren, seven-year-old Melissa and Harrison, three, explained she doesn’t know how she and the family would have coped without the high level of care and support they received from the hospice over many years.

“As soon as you step through the door of Francis House it’s just like going into a family. It’s a wonderfully peaceful and happy place and they’d walk a hundred miles to do something for you,” she said.

“I love the place so much that I call it my ‘angel house’ because it seems to be full of the feeling of angels and angels work there.”

Val, who lives at Newton Heath in Manchester, added: “Over the years they did so much for Charlene, such as giving her treatments tailored to her specific needs and taking her out shopping and on trips to the cinema or the countryside.

“The hospice also supports the parents of the young people who are in there. They have a special room where you can stay to be near your child and I often did that for a week or so.

“When Charlene passed away at our home, the hospice were marvellous and took care of all the arrangements for her funeral, which was so lovely and more like a celebration of her life.”

Colin McCrory, Stretford Mall manager, said: “For some years now, we have had a wishing well as part of the wonderland surrounding Santa’s grotto and people have always found a coin and made a Christmas wish.

“We have always put the money to good use by donating it to charity and this time we are delighted to be handing the money over to Francis House.

“Mums like Val have helped us to realise what a special place it is and I am sure all our loyal and generous shoppers will agree that it is a terrific cause to support.”

Francis House Children’s Hospice in Didsbury helps more than 240 families from across the north west every year. All the children and young people who come to the hospice have life-limiting conditions.

Peter Forster, fundraising manager at Francis House, said: “This is a wonderful amount of money to raise at this time of year and we want to thank all the shoppers at Stretford Mall.

“It was a fun way of raising funds to maintain the work we do caring for children and young people with life-limiting conditions and supporting their families.”