Rotary Santas were making their way down the streets of Great Britain and Ireland over the course of December, one of which graced the streets of Folkestone.
The Rotary Club of Folkestone organises this annual event which has taken place over the last 50 years where members and local volunteers collect money from the public by visiting residential areas.
This year also brought Santa into the modern world as residents of Folkestone were able to chat with him via zoom!
All the money collected will be going towards purchasing 130 food packages that will be given to those who struggle financially and delivered to the needy within the local area.
President Kate McNeice commented: “My sincere thanks to all those involved especially our members who have all pulled together as well as so many other local volunteers who joined us.
“Thankfully the weather was fair and it was so special to see so many children’s smiley faces and adults of course.
“The amount raised this year has been outstanding, one of our best on record which is testament to the generosity of all the local residents who gave so generously along with SAGA who also supported us.”
The successful sleigh visits weren’t limited to Folkestone as towards Swindon, the combined efforts of the Rotary clubs of Royal Wootton Bassett & District and Royal Wootton Bassett Town brought Santa to the local area, raising £7912 in the process.
These kind donations were collected from the residents of Royal Wootton Bassett, Lyneham and Lydiard Millicent – with some of the money going towards government gift aid.
A bit further north in Shrewsbury, the children of Grange Primary School got to enjoy a visit from a face-masked up Santa thanks to Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club.
The visit of Santa and his elf helper is a date in the school calendar which is eagerly awaited by all the different age groups. Santa’s arrival is kept a secret until there’s a knock on the classroom door and he makes an appearance with his elf helper.
Books were gifted by Santa to 224 pupils across the school and there was great excitement as the children unwrapped their presents.
“We needed to be cautious again this year, but at least Santa was able to visit the school,” said Rotarian Kerry Ferguson of Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club.
“Despite the difficult circumstances this Christmas, Santa was as popular as ever with the pupils at the Grange School and this came through very clearly in the way he was received.
“He spent well over two hours visiting the various classrooms, talking to the pupils as well as answering a stream of interesting questions.”
Easthampstead Rotary Club had plenty of reason to celebrate this festive season as on Christmas Eve, the last day of their Christmas collecting, the dedicated Rotarians raised over £1,000!
The collecting took place outside Tesco Warfield and the club were rewarded for their efforts by the generosity and kindness of local shoppers.
The Berkshire club also had success with their Charity Christmas Raffle. The draw took place at the Coppid Beech Hotel and saw a top prize of £500 won as well as plenty of other big money draws.
Elsewhere, pupils from Mobberley Primary School, Gorsey Bank Primary School and St Benedict’s Catholic Primary were all invited by Rotary Cheadle Royal to sing at a special Christmas event held at The Manchester Airport Visitor Park.
Acknowledging their performances and charitable support, Rotary Cheadle Royal presented each of the school choirs with a special ‘Community Service Award’.
One proud parent, whose daughter attends Gorsey Bank Primary School, said: “I am so proud of the children and their dedication leading up to their public performances over the past two months, and to have such an opportunity to perform six songs here at the airport under the nose of the famous Concorde was amazing.
“The choirs sounded wonderful in this building and there have been many lovely comments from the crowds attending, even Santa enjoyed himself during his flying visit.”
Finally, back at Shrewsbury Severn Rotary, one long-standing Rotarian is willing to hear from charities who want to be considered for the donations from his latest beard shave-off.
Rotarian Peter Love explained: “For more years than I care to remember, I have grown my beard to be a Santa, either on the Rotary sleigh tours, at supermarkets, at the Rotary Christmas afternoon tea for elderly people as well as at The Grange School in Shrewsbury.
“In the past I have traditionally had a beard shave at the turn of the year for a chosen charity and the proceeds have been donated to very many of them – thanks to kind supporters including Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club, family, friends and neighbours – all of whom I can’t thank enough.
“This year I have come up with the novel idea that the beard shave could be in support of a charity that I haven’t previously helped – and I am sure there are still many who come into that category.
“So I would like to hear from a charity who would welcome my support from the forthcoming beard shave which is traditionally supported by Risdon’s barber shop.”
Shrewsbury Severn Rotary Club President John Yeomans added: “This is Rotary at its best where one of our members Peter is living up to our motto of ‘Service above Self’ in wanting to help others.”
If anyone is interested in receiving the donations from Peter’s efforts, they can contact him via email.