LOVELY PICTURES: Mansfield Woodhouse children who lost their mum and dad to cancer this year get surprise visit from Santa

A surprise birthday visit from Santa put a little Christmas sparkle into the lives of two Mansfield Woodhouse children who lost their mum and dad to cancer this year.

Father Christmas took time out from his busy schedule to give Toby and Grace Overton a magic horse-drawn sleigh ride when he called at their home.

Santa paid a surprise visit to Toby and Grace Overton, aged eight and three, in a horse-drawn sleigh. Picture by Rachel Atkins.

Santa paid a surprise visit to Toby and Grace Overton, aged eight and three, in a horse-drawn sleigh. Picture by Rachel Atkins.

The visit, organised by The Ostler Horse and Carriage Co, from Teversal, arrived on Toby’s eighth birthday – and was a complete surprise for him and his two-year-old sister.

Emma Overton, their aunt, said: “We hadn’t told them so it was a lovely surprise.

“They deserve a little bit of magic this Christmas after all that has happened this year.”

Their mum Helen died in November after she lost her battle with cancer in the same year her partner and father both died from the disease.

Helen’s partner Steven Overton died of cancer in February.

Six weeks later, Helen’s father John McCran passed away at the age of 62, shortly before Helen herself was diagnosed with the illness.

Emma said: “We are sorting things out a bit now, trying to get the children settled.

“It will be a long road with them. We are not looking forward to Christmas as there will be a lot of memories.

“This will take their minds of things for a little time.”

Toby and Grace were given a ride in the sleigh carriage with Santa and met the two Irish horses Dolly and Daisy.

Amy Cook, of The Ostler Horse and Carriage Co, said: “We read about Helen and Steve and our hearts went out to the children.

“It was the least we could do at this bad time to make Christmas a little better for them.”

The Ostler Horse and Carriage Co is a family-run business which offers carriages for weddings and funerals.

Christmas sleigh rides with Santa for children are its latest venture.

Amy said: “We offer a bespoke tailor made package to families who want to make their childrens’ faces light up and their Christmas dreams come true.

“Let Santa and his friends come and visit your home right up to Christmas eve to sprinkle a little Christmas magic.

“We have 19 different horses and offer tailor made packages for families to decide where and which horses they want.”

The Ostler Horse and Carriage Co are running a competition on their Facebook page – www.facebook.com/Santavisitme.co.uk – for a family to win a Christmas Eve visit from Santa and a horse drawn sleigh ride.

The winner of the competition will be chosen on Thursday, December 10.