QINETIQ staff at Farnborough have been busy getting into the spirit of Christmas and donating gifts for needy children who might otherwise receive very little or nothing at all in their Christmas stockings.

The idea came from Jan Crocker at QinetiQ, formerly called DERA.

Having got the backing of her managers, she asked the rest of her department if, when doing their Christmas shopping, they would buy just one extra present to pass on to a disadvantaged child.

The idea proved popular and the Salvation Army in Aldershot and a young people's home in the Portsmouth area have been chosen to receive these gifts.

Jan Crocker said: "At the end of November my colleagues and I were making plans to decorate the office for Christmas and the conversation led on to the subject of buying family presents.

"From there it was a short hop to thoughts of those children who, through no fault of their own, might miss out on the thrill of opening lots of presents.

"I had recently heard about a ‘giving tree' appeal and adapted the idea. I asked my colleagues to spend up to £5 for a gift and then wrap it and tag it with details of gender and age suitability. The response has been wonderful and we have managed to collect a number of large sacks full of presents."

The Salvation Army's Captain Barry Cox said: "The Salvation Army is the largest and most diverse welfare organisation in the world. We rely heavily upon the generosity of the public, especially at this time of year when needy families look to us for help.

"It is great when organisations collect Christmas gifts for us as QinetiQ has done. We'll make sure that they are all passed on to those who most need them."