In ordinary times Christmas markets would be in full swing across the region, with bustling crowds browsing all manner of festive delights.

Now, thanks an enterprising Doncaster mum, people have the chance to buy all the Christmas gifts they’d expect to find at a market – and all from the comfort of their sofa.

When it became clear that traditional Christmas markets would be a no go this year, mum-of-three Jemma Mcewan launched a virtual version on Facebook, and now has around 190 mainly local sellers on board.

Since launching the Doncaster & Rotherham Virtual Christmas Market last month, it’s now amassed over 6,000 followers.

“I initially became involved through a friend of a friend, who drew my attention to a similar venture in Northumberland,” said Jemma, 35, who works in accounts.

“I thought it would be great to have a local version, to give independent local businesses and community groups a chance to sell their products after what’s been such a difficult year.

“Once I’d launched it I thought it would start off small, with just a few of my friends and I. But within hours of setting it up, my inbox had gone crazy. There was just so much demand, I couldn’t believe it.”

Jemma decided she also wanted local charities to benefit, so has organised a big raffle with the proceeds being split between Bluebell Wood and local mental health charity, Project 14.

With various local businesses donating to the raffle – from handmade gifts and vouchers to dining experiences and days out – there are some top prizes up for grabs.

“I really wanted to support some of our fantastic local charities so a raffle seemed like the perfect way to do it,” added Jemma.

“We’ve had some amazing prizes donated by local businesses and we keep adding more so it’s really not to be missed.”

The raffle will be drawn on December 5th, with tickets priced at £2.50 each. To browse the market or take part in the raffle, all you need to do is search Doncaster and Rotherham Christmas Market on Facebook or click here.

Sally Baker, Regional Fundraiser (Doncaster) at Bluebell Wood, said: “Christmas is such an important time for our brilliant local businesses and community organisations so it’s fantastic to see such an inventive way of keeping the Christmas market alive in these uncertain times.

“There are all manner of amazing gifts up for grabs, not to mention the big raffle, so please do take a look for yourself.

“A huge thank you to Jemma for supporting Bluebell Wood and putting so much time and effort into making it a success.”

Help local families make precious festive memories