Santa's reindeer may well deliver gifts to children in Burbage in the early hours of December 25 – but it will be down to Ginette Stewart’s 13- year-old horse Sam to deliver the Christmas mail.

Sam will be decorated with a Christmas hat and blanket and bells when 23-year-old Ginette – dressed as an elf – rides him around the village on a pre-booked festive postal route.

Sam has become a popular sight around the village on Ginette’s regular hacks.

About three years ago, the former St John’s School student put a Christmas hat on Fred during December, attracting a lot of comment in the village, and she then added the festive blanket and bells.

Ginette, who has a degree in English literature and is a careers advisor and counsellor, has been riding since she was able to stand and has owned gelding Sam for about eight years.

The village is fundraising for a defibrillator in memory of the popular landlord of the White Hart, Richard Flint, who died of a heart attack.

This year Ginette has decided to charge for delivering Christmas cards, and will be giving all the money she raises to the appeal.

She has also produced her own Christmas cards of Sam in his festive finery, which cost £1.50 including delivery. Other cards will cost £1 to be delivered in the village.

Ginette said: “The kids love it when I ride Sam around Burbage with his Christmas hat and bells on, so this year I have decided to upgrade to delivering Christmas cards for charity.

“This year’s charity will be the defibrillator appeal but each year I plan to have a different charity.”

The cards featuring Sam will be on sale at the village’s Christmas tree sale and market on December 8, or Ginette can be contacted on (01672) 812008 to arrange delivery.