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Young people

Creative Rotarians being festive joy to the streets during pandemic

Creative Rotarians being festive joy to the streets during pandemic

For many Rotary clubs, the festive season heralds the Father Christmas street visits in his mobile sleigh to raise money for a huge number of deserving causes. However, with the new three tier lockdown conditions imposed at the beginning of December, this has hampered efforts by clubs.

It has meant some clubs have gone ahead with their collections, while others have chosen to abandon efforts this year.

In Middlesex, Elthorne-Hillingdon Rotary has begun six nights of collections in Ickenham and Hillingdon. They are unable to collect door-to-door or even use card readers.

However, using social media and the club website to publicise the visits, the Santa collections have resulted in hundreds of pounds being donated to support the London Air Ambulance and Coram Life Education Centre.

“We felt we had to do something to raise Christmas spirits,” said President Gillian Pearce, who pointed out in previous years the annual Santa collection had raised around £6,000 for charities.

We felt we had to do something to raise Christmas spirits,”

“People have really appreciated our efforts despite the difficulties, and it was lovely to bring some Christmas cheer.”

In Derbyshire, Rotary Santa has had his first sleigh rides in the Parks area of Belper. Sleigh bells ringing, Santa waving, Santa bringing joy of Christmas to old and young alike.

A very Covid safety-conscious Santa did not want people to gather so he and the sleigh kept moving at walking pace and the usual Rotary collecting suspended.

Rotary Santa Chief Elf, John Stamp, said, “Families were careful, standing at their own property, waving from windows, hooting the horn as cars passed.

“The atmosphere was just how we planned, smiling faces and happy children seeing Santa passing by in his sleigh.”


Belper & Duffield Rotary clubs took an early decision that this year’s Rotary Santa this year must be different and safe, yet, felt it was important to bring the joy of Santa to families in the area.

Belper & Duffield Rotary


Also in Derbyshire, Bolsover Rotary came up with an imaginative festive publicity campaign, putting an empty sleigh in the middle of the town besides a poster with the slogan “Santa’s sack is empty, we need your support”.

With collection buckets and a contactless card machine, the Rotary club collected £320 last September which has enabled them to buy presents for Santa to distribute this weekend on the Saturday before Christmas.

“So many people came up to us with donations of new toys,” said President-elect, Paul Copper. “They included a young brother and sister who had been visited that week by a local hospice.

Bolsover Rotary came up with an imaginative festive publicity campaign, putting an empty sleigh in the middle of the town besides a poster with the slogan “Santa’s sack is empty, we need your support”.

“They were so upset that there were some children who didn’t get any toys from Santa, that they used their pocket money and all the money from their piggy banks to bring us loads of toys.

“It was an emotional moment to hear their story.”


In Surrey, the Banstead Christmas lights were switched on by Father Christmas, to signal the start of Banstead Rotary’s Photography Competition and the annual Christmas collection supporting many well-deserving local charities.

Given the many social restrictions, Banstead Rotary could not allow Father Christmas to tour the area, and instead they have more to more virtual and internet-based fund-raising initiatives. Last year, the Santa tour raised around £12,000.