Sunderland children have the chance to join the Elf Academy and spread the Christmas cheer at Washington Wetland Centre

Families have the chance to earn an elf diploma at a special festive academy aimed at helping others.

Wednesday, 4th December 2019, 2:25 pm
The Elf Academy at WWT Washington Wetland Centre will be donating more than 100 Christmas presents to charity

The team at WWT Washington Wetland Centre is getting into the Christmas spirit by collecting and donating more than 100 gifts as part of a newly launched Elf Academy.

The scheme will see more than 140 children and parents join in the festivities with training to become one of Santa’s fully-fledged elves, earning an Elf Diploma.

Organisers say elf recruits will enjoy a variety of activities including crafts and sing-a-longs, as well as learning a valuable message about sharing the festive cheer by bringing in a toy or book to donate to a local charity.

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Joanne Newbury, head elf and WWT Washington’s learning manager, said: “Christmas is an exciting time of year and through all of the enjoyment we like to encourage kindness, caring and compassion.

“We know how important the support from the local community can be, which is one of the reasons we reach out to families to donate a gift at Christmas as part of our Elf Academy experience.”

Joanne and her elf-helpers will deliver over 140 gifts to Wearside Women in Need and Grace House.

Elf recruits will also be asked to make a wish and add it to a wishing line, which will be on display in the centre.

Visitors over the festive period will be encouraged to add their hopes and wishes for the year ahead, relating to the environment, wildlife, nature, family, friends or loved ones.

Elf Academy is running every weekend from December 7 to 22.

There are a limited number of places available so pre-booking at www.wwt.org.uk/Washington/elf-academy is advised.

WWT Washington Wetland Centre is open every day except Christmas Day for people wishing to visit over the festive period.

Winter opening times are 9.30am to 4.30pm (last admission 3.30pm), with an earlier closing time of 2pm on Christmas Eve (last admission 1pm).

A number of events and activities are taking place over the festive season at the centre. More details are available on its website.