Shoppers have helped provide a record-breaking number of gifts to sick children in hospital.

Visitors to Churchill Square in Brighton bought 653 presents for youngsters who had to spend Christmas in the city's Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital. Their value was double that of last year's gifts and a record for the appeal.

In addition, shoppers were invited to take selfies in one of four festive "Elfie Stations" in the shopping centre in return for a donation.

This made £6,608 for Rockinghorse, the official fundraising arm of the children’s hospital.

The Argus: The giving tree at Churchill SquareThe giving tree at Churchill Square (Image: Churchill Square)

The money was used to buy more gifts for children at the hospital alongside the Giving Tree scheme and to help provide life-saving equipment and specialist services for babies, children and their families.

Mark Buchanan-Smith, centre director at Churchill Square, said: “Each year the generosity of the community really touches us. But in a difficult year where many people are struggling to make ends meet, we have been blown away by these fantastic results.

“We never could have imagined we’d double the amount we received last year. It really is testament to the wonderful giving spirit of the Brighton community.

“Being able to deliver so many gifts for children who are poorly at Christmas meant so much to us, and we can’t thank our shoppers enough for their support.

“Lots of very special children received a wonderful surprise on Christmas Day.”

Three giving trees were situated around the centre, with tags suggesting a gift to buy and the store to buy it from. Shoppers were able to take one and buy the item, then drop it off at a desk in the centre.

More than 4,600 gifts have been donated over the 12 years of the scheme.

The Argus: The 'Elfie Stations' had fun backdrops for picturesThe 'Elfie Stations' had fun backdrops for pictures (Image: Churchill Square)

Amanda Hetherington, corporate engagement manager at Rockinghorse, said: “Every year Churchill Square and their wonderful customers really go out of their way to support us, especially in the run up to Christmas.

“But this time they have really surpassed themselves, raising such an amazing amount for babies, children and young people across Sussex.

“We would like to say a huge thank you to the team at Churchill Square and every single person who donated a gift via the Giving Tree or enjoyed taking pictures in the Elfie Station. Your generosity has blown us away, and will make such a difference to so many people.”