SANTA Claus visited Darlington to spread festive cheer on Thursday.

He roamed around the Cornmill Shopping Centre to wish a Merry Christmas to all, greeting youngsters as he went.

Santa also used his time in Darlington to raise awareness of the annual Salvation Army toy appeal.

The appeal sees the Salvation Army distribute donations of new toys and gifts to people in need at Christmas.

Mr Claus encouraged people to get behind the appeal, saying: “I’d like not only to be giving out presents but for people to give me presents that I can hand to the Salvation Army to go to needy kids.”

Shopper Libby Lee said Santa’s visit had made her young daughter’s eyes light up.

The 28-year-old added: “It gets them into the spirit – she has been excited for a couple of weeks now but the more she is seeing Santa around places, the more she knows it is soon.”

Throughout the festive season, generous Darlington people have been donating gifts to families in need at drop-off points across the town.