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Santa popped in to make it a special Christmas at a children’s hospice in east London which treats youngsters with life-threatening conditions.

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Children up to 13 years old were treated with their families to entertainment, music, art, face painting and a pantomime at Richard House Hospice at Beckton.

But the youngsters really made a bee-line for Santa’s grotto.

Older children and teenagers had a very different party the next day with a theme of comic book super heroes. Catwoman, Spiderman and Batman were among the heroes who arrived at the hospice in Richard House Drive near Beckton District Park, while staff performed a superhero pantomime.

The hospice provides free care and services to children with complex health conditions and their families from all over London.

It offers day care, short-residential stays and support in the home to children from birth until their 20th birthday. There is always a bed set aside for emergency and end-of-life care. Many children are not expected to reach adulthood.

But Richard House needs to raise £3 million every year to keep going. A palliative nurse for a month’s care per child, for example, costs the charity more than £3,000.

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