Santa uses sign language to find out what girl, aged three, wants for Christmas

The heart-warming moment Father Christmas communicated with a three-year-old girl using sign language has been captured on film.

When Mali Williams-Cody sat on Santa's knee at Middlesbrough's Cleveland Centre, her mother explained she couldn't talk very well.

Undeterred, Father Christmas asked: "Can she sign at all?"

When Mali's mother said she could do basic sign language, the pair began a memorable exchange, reminiscent of the 1994 movie "Miracle On 34th Street" when Richard Attenborough's character communicated through sign with a little girl.

Mali was clearly delighted and the clip has been viewed more than 230,000 times on YouTube.

Her mother Suzanne Williams told the Middlesbrough-based Gazette newspaper: "It was an amazing moment. Mali was smiling for ages afterwards."

The footage received a huge response online. Melissa Palmer wrote on Facebook: "In tears here well done Cleveland centre Santa."

Nicola Baker added on social media: "Wow speechless miracle in Cleveland centre never mind 34th street absolutely amazing."

A spokesman for the shopping centre said: "Santa wants to make sure every child who visits really does experience what this time of year is all about.

"Santa will take his time with each and every child and will try and put a smile on their faces.

"Santa has been coming to the Cleveland Centre for four years now and this has got to the most truly amazing few minutes we have experienced."