Christmas came early to Robin House in Balloch when some unusual visitors surprised children and families.

Miniature ponies dressed in reindeer antlers and tinsel took a tour of the children's hospice, receiving lots of hugs and pats from the children.

The Shetland ponies, from Therapy Ponies Scotland, offer therapeutic visits to care homes, hospitals and hospices across Scotland to provide comfort and stimulation and also lots of fun.

Eilidh Grant, activities co-ordinator at Robin House - part of Children's Hospices Across Scotland (CHAS) - said it was brilliant having another visit from the ponies.

She added: "Our children and families always enjoy their visits especially during the run up to Christmas when the ponies are dressed up.”

The ponies' visit is just one of the festive celebrations the charity has planned in the lead up to Christmas.

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Robin House will be holding a number of Christmas parties, while the charity will also be hosting a Christmas wrapping service at intu Braehead to help raise vital funds.

The stand opens on Thursday, December 12 with some Christmas carolling and a special surprise performance for shoppers.

Eilidh said: “We’ve got lots of fun events planned for the whole of December with our Christmas parties and we’re hoping lots of people will pull on the festive jumpers, hats, socks and shoes and take part in Festive Friday on December 13.”

CHAS is the only charity in Scotland that provides hospice services for babies, children and young people with life-shortening conditions. The national charity offers palliative care and respite for the whole family via its two hospices, Robin House and Rachel House in Kinross, and via its CHAS at Home service, which supports families in their own homes, and via its increasing presence in hospitals across Scotland.

For more information about the charity or to sign up to take part in Festive Friday, visit