Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway (GSWR) has been bringing a little Christmas spirit with a number of Santa Special services.

These dedicated trains are seen all over the UK entertaining thousands of children and parents alike. It brings together both the merriment of the festive season and also allows youngsters to have a trip on a steam engine, something which they may have never done. However, in the Cotswolds it was an extra special occasion.

The Cotswold Journal reported that the GWSR made time from its busy schedule to give a group of seriously ill and bereaved children an early Christmas present. Youngsters and their families, supported by Acorns Children's Hospice and Winston's Wish, climbed aboard the special steam train at Cheltenham Racecourse on Friday (December 12th) en route to 'North Pole' at Winchcombe Station.

Weaving through the picturesque countryside, passengers received a special visit from none other than Father Christmas while they enjoyed mince pies and refreshments. After reaching Winchcombe they were treated to more food and drink topping off a memorable day for everyone.

Chris Blake, volunteer in the locomotive department at GWSR, told the news provider: "For some, Christmas can be difficult. Those with children who are very seriously ill or have lost loved ones for example, and we wanted to give them and their families something that will make them smile."

“So Father Christmas paid us an extra visit and handed out presents to these rather special youngsters.”

The GWSR is one of the more established steam railways in the country spanning 25 miles between Laverton and Cheltenham Racecourse. The route offers some great views of the Cotswolds and is frequented by railway enthusiasts from around the country, and even from further afield.

Open ten months of the year, the railway is a huge favourite with anyone with a genuine interest in railways and some that simply enjoy a ride through the British countryside.