Stagecoach North East bus drivers and staff at its depots in Newcastle, South Shields, Sunderland, Stockton and Hartlepool are swapping their uniforms for Christmas costumes in a bid to raise funds for local charities chosen by the employees.
At the Hartlepool depot, Keith Bagguley, Wendy Fletcher and Andrew Taylor are dressing as Santa Claus to bring seasonal cheer to passengers, and raising funds for Daisy Chain as part of its '12 Days of Christmas' campaign.
The bus drivers and the rest of the team are hoping to raise over £625 for the charity which helps children and families affected by autism, and beat last year’s total. The drivers can be seen driving around the town throughout December, hopefully attracting plenty of attention and donations from passengers and the public, and will be handing out festive novelties on board.
Katy Carmen, Fundraising and Communications Manager from Daisy Chain, said: “We are so grateful to Stagecoach North East for supporting our 12 Days of Christmas campaign. It is only through the efforts of people like the bus drivers that we can continue to provide the services our families rely on. The Christmas period can be very stressful for our families so we are really grateful for these fundraising efforts which enable us to support families at this special time of year.”
Staff from the Stockton depot will be dressing as Santa Claus, snowmen, elves and a Christmas pudding to help raise funds for the Trinity Holistic Centre in Middlesbrough.
Bus driver Neil English, 50, from Billingham , said: “We all really enjoy getting dressed up, as it’s for such a good cause and brings a bit of festive cheer to our day. Christmas can be a hectic time, so we just want to give people a smile or a laugh and raise some money for charity. It also adds a lovely festive atmosphere for people to enjoy on their journey to or from town.”
The Sunderland depot is raising funds for St Benedict’s Hospice, the Alzheimer’s Society and ‘I’m in for Will’, three year-old William Calvert from Hylton Castle with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.
Bus driver Oz McCormack, dressed as Mrs Santa, donated a 4ft singing Santa Claus to St Benedict’s Hospice for the patients, families and staff to enjoy. She said: “I thought the singing Santa would help to bring a bit of festive cheer to the Hospice in the build up to Christmas.”
Catrina Flynn, Fundraising Manager for St Benedict’s Hospice, said: “We are so grateful to once again benefit from the fundraising carried out by Stagecoach staff in the run up to Christmas. Each year the range of costumes gets better and better and I am sure they brighten all the passengers’ journeys in the cold, dark December days. I hope everyone will support them and give generously to support the three charities.
Jason Astley, Operations Manager at Stagecoach North East’s Hartlepool depot, said: “The drivers always get into the festive spirit to support the charities chosen and the public’s generosity never fails to surprise us. I think our passengers enjoy seeing Santa Claus driving the buses – it puts a smile on everyone’s face.”
Nathan Stanislawski, Operations Manager at Stagecoach North East’s Teesside depot in Stockton, added: “We are always happy to support our drivers, particularly when they’re actively helping the community and raising funds for such a good cause and the rest of the team wish them good luck.”