WHARFEDALE and Airedale's schools, businesses and residents are being asked to back a Christmas appeal.

The Yorkshire's Children's Hospitals Christmas Gift Appeal was started by Otley mum and fundraiser Mel Metcalfe in 2012.

Intended as a way of ensuring that young people who are unwell over the festive period know others are thinking of them, it now delivers hundreds of gifts to local hospitals and hospices each year.

Mel is once again getting preparations underway for this December - and that means marshalling support from as many local people, shops, groups, firms and schools as possible.

Putting out her plea for help on the appeal's Facebook page, she said: "Calling all businesses, schools and clubs - we are in need of your support.

"Last year we had the wonderful White Hart in Pool, the amazing Hare and Hounds in Menston and, again, the great owners and staff at Mousie Browns in Horsforth putting up beautiful giving trees in their businesses.

"And their super, kind and generous customers and staff all helped with the gift appeal.

"Would any business be kind enough to do this for us this year, please?

"We have also been given, yet again, the kind support of the staff, parents and children of The Whartons Primary School who are supporting us for the second year running,

"Would any other schools out there like to join the appeal?

"It's great for children to show their support and let the youngsters in hospital know they care."

She added: "This appeal only works because of people and businesses and schools like you, without the support and everyone coming together to help it wouldn't happen.

"We have a couple of drop-off points for donated gifts sorted again, including my home address at 31 Newall Carr Road, but we really need businesses to act as drop-off points too as this gets a lot of the donations in and the appeal seen."

The appeal asks people to donate gifts for a range of age groups, from babies up to teenagers.

It is also encouraging people to hold fundraising raffles, bun sales or fancy dress days to raise money.

The proceeds will help Mel and her team plug any gaps across the age ranges - last year there was a shortfall in donated presents for teenagers, and of sensory gifts - by buying extra items.

The appeal delivers gifts to young people in hospital children's units and hospices across Yorkshire in the run-up to Christmas.

For more details of how to get involved contact Mel on 07749 746190 or send an e-mail to Mmetcalfe182@aol.com or zombiemel@sky.com .