CHERIE Blair put her property woes behind her to welcome brave youngsters from Gwent to Downing Street.

Sophie Rogers, 11, Michael Jones, 15, and Joshua Skinner, 11, all of Newport, were among ten young leukaemia and cancer patients who met Mrs Blair, Welsh Secretary Peter Hain and other Welsh MPs yesterday.

The trip - which included a tour round the Speaker's quarters in the House of Commons, afternoon tea with Mr Hain in the Welsh Office and the visit to Number 10 - is organised twice every year by Tony Curtis, manager of Daffodil Windows, Newport.

The children - all being treated at Llandough Hospital, near Penarth - were escorted from the Welsh Office to Downing Street by members of 1st The Queens Dragoon Guards, where they decorated a Christmas tree with red glass hearts.

More glass hearts were presented to Mrs Blair and the MPs as a reminder of how fragile our children are.

Each child was given an armful of presents by Santa, and an envelope containing £5 by Speaker Michael Martin.

The children stayed at Number 10 after meeting Santa, talking with Mrs Blair. They also met her young son, Leo, who received a toy train from Santa.

Joshua, of Pinewood Close, Newport, started ten months of chemotherapy in January for cancer in his liver.

He said: "The treatment was very painful at first and then they changed it slightly, so it was a little easier. It hasn't worked and I may need a liver transplant, but I'm feeling well right now."

Sophie, of Trent Road, Bettws, Newport, said if she met the prime minister she would say: "I would ban hunting with dogs; you'd be allowed to hunt, but without dogs." And Michael, of Broadmead Park, Lliswerry, Newport, said it was his second trip to Downing Street, thanks to Mr Curtis.

Mr Hain, who added to the children's haul by giving them each a chocolate selection box, said: "As a cabinet minister I am often buried in red boxes or meetings.

"This is a special occasion, as it gives me a chance to link up with these wonderful children with difficult circumstances. Watching them enjoy the fun and learning about central government is a joy to behold."

PICTURED: Sophie Rogers, of Newport, catches the eye of Cherie Blair at 10 Downing Street.