A charity has launched an appeal calling on the public to donate gifts for elderly patients to open on Christmas Day.

Raise, which works with west Hertfordshire hospitals, is launching its 2019 'Raise a Smile' appeal.

The special Christmas project will make sure that every patient in West Hertfordshire’s three hospitals – Watford, Hemel and St Albans – will have at least one gift to open on Christmas Day.

Raise a Smile started in 2018 and the success of the appeal led to enough gifts for every patient, young or old, ill or injured.

David Head, Raise’s director, said: "This appeal is so simple but so important. Being able to give a gift to everyone in hospital makes sure that no-one feels they are missing out. It brings a touch of Christmas magic to the wards and makes a hospital stay in the holiday season just a little bit more bearable. We had an incredible response last year and I can’t see any reason for us not to achieve the same this year.

"Businesses and individuals alike are invited to take part and it’s very easy to help us, the appeal website is at www.raiseasmile.org.uk.”

The NHS trust’s chief executive, Christine Allen, added: "Raise do a great job supporting all three of our hospitals in many ways but this particular appeal is close to our hearts. It’s important to bring a little Christmas cheer, especially to those patients who don’t have many visits from friends and family.

"Nobody wants to be in hospital at Christmas time and a small gift genuinely does 'Raise a Smile'".

Well-wishers can buy a gift and take it to the collection point near the café at St Albans Hospital. Alternatively, visit the appeal website at www.raiseasmile.org.uk and make a donation to allow Raise to buy a present.