CHILDREN with autism have enjoyed a special breakfast with Father Christmas and one of his elves.

Worcester’s Crowngate Shopping Centre, in partnership with the Worcestershire branch of the National Autistic Society, hosted the breakfast event over two weekends, where young children with autism indulged in a festive treat.

A group of 20 children and their families enjoyed a 90-minute meeting with Santa Claus and his helper at the shopping centre’s Pod located near Iceland, where they tucked into breakfast served by the centre’s restaurants, Bill’s and Wildwood.

The children also took part in interactive storytelling sessions and were able to find out if they had been good boys and girls by using a ‘naughty or nice’ finger scanner.

The youngsters all received a gift from Santa and were also able to tell him what is on their wish list.

Beryl Curtis, co-chair at the National Autistic Society Worcestershire branch, said: “The accessible breakfast has been such a rewarding initiative to be involved with.

"The seemingly small things make such a difference to the little ones and their families. It has been an enjoyable event for all who attended, and we’d like to say a huge ‘thank you’ to everyone involved.”

Mike Lloyd, centre manager at Crowngate Shopping Centre, said: “Christmas is a magical time, with lots of fantastic decorations, lights and music that many revel in. However, we are mindful that the colourfulness and sounds can be overwhelming to our visitors with autism and other sensory conditions.

“We are committed to making sure everyone who comes to Crowngate finds it warm and welcoming. The accessible breakfast has been a brilliant event for children to become immersed in all the wonder of Christmas but in a space that is relaxing and suited to their needs.

“Our most grateful thanks to National Autistic Society Worcestershire Branch for partnering with us, it’s been a highlight of the many Christmas activities we’ve had this year.

“There’s not many people who can say they had a private breakfast with Santa and an elf.”

The breakfast sessions were free to attend and took place on December 9 and December 16.

The National Autistic Society aims to raise awareness and promote a positive change in local areas.

To get involved with the society, email or phone on 07442505736.