A CHRISTMAS grotto opened by a young Wallasey boy who has undergone 75 surgical operations raised thousands of pounds for Claire House.

George Johnson, aged four, and sister Ava, who is five, opened the Pyramids Shopping Centre’s grotto in Birkenhead in December.

Generous shoppers and staff helped collect a massive £7,000.

The grotto was designed as a winter wonderland of a light and sound to echo the multi-sensory light room at the hospice, which literally brightens the lives of youngsters who use it.

Close to 1,500 children visited grotto and £450 was raised every day.

Proceeds will fund the ten-bedded hospice’s "Pay for a Day" scheme, which encourages fundraisers to aim towards a £6,500 goal to cover the costs of a full 24-hours' worth of care at Claire House.

George, who attends St George’s Primary School in Wallasey, was born with a rare condition affecting his feeding and swallowing.

He has to be fed through a central line directly into his heart to ensure he receives the nutrients he needs to keep growing big and strong.

His condition is as yet undiagnosed 

His 75th operation took place shortly before Christmas when he had all of his teeth removed.

Acid caused by the constant reflux he also suffers caused major tooth decay and doctors became concerned that if left, they could cause serious infection.

But Christmas was a very happy time for the Johnsons, because it was the first one which George was able to spend at home, thanks in part to the Claire House Home Team, which regularly helps the Wallasey family.

Mum Emma said: “George had such a wonderful time being at home for Christmas this year.

"He told me he didn’t realise how good Christmas could be.

“Being at home was not only special for George but also for Ava, too, who has often been in a hospital canteen having her turkey dinner in the past.

“We were amazed to hear how much had been raised by the grotto although word soon got round about how good it was and I know a lot of people who went to see Santa there."

Pyramids Shopping Centre has been asked to nominate a special day which will be dedicated to the success of the Santa’s grotto fundraising.

George and Ava have chosen Valentine’s Day.