Stagecoach North East bus drivers from Sunderland raised £2,700 for charity by spreading some Christmas cheer as they drove their buses during the run-up to Christmas.
Drivers from the local bus operator dressed as Santa Claus while on driving duties, bringing a smile to the faces of their passengers and encouraging them to dig deep for their chosen charities. Customers once again showed great generosity, with staff collecting for St Benedict’s Hospice, the Alzheimer’s Society and ‘I’m in for Will’, four-year-old William Calvert from Hylton Castle with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.
Sunderland bus driver Oz McCormack, said: “All three charities were chosen by the employees and offer much needed support in our local community, and we are very proud to have helped them in this way. We would like to thank our passengers for supporting us and giving as generously as they did on their travels and hope we made their journey a little more fun and festive.”
Oz also donated a 4ft singing Santa Claus to St Benedict’s Hospice, which proved to be a popular attraction, bringing festive cheer to the hospice for residents and guests alike.
Catrina Flynn, Fundraising Manager for St Benedict’s Hospice, said: “We are delighted that the Stagecoach drivers have chosen to support St Benedict’s once again to benefit from their fundraising, we look forward each year to seeing them all dressed up behind the wheel and it must really cheer up the passengers to see them. The amount raised is fantastic and will really help us to continue our support to our patients and their families. I would also like to thank Oz for her kindness in donating a life size dancing Santa Claus to the hospice which took pride of place in our Bistro and was loved by everyone who came in, especially the children.”
Lucy King, Community Fundraiser for the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “What a wonderful way to support three very worthy causes. I never tire of hearing about the lengths people go to when fundraising for us – and if they’re able to make people smile in the process, that’s even better.
“I can’t thank Stagecoach North East enough for the effort they went to on our behalf. They money raised will help us to deliver on our promise to support people living with dementia to continue doing the things they love.”
Joining Oz in the festive dress up were Sunderland bus drivers Karl Steinberg, Nathan Pennick, Matthew Batson, Alannah Mae Dawson, Chris Marner and Andrew Ballantine. During their shifts, the drivers handed out festive novelties to help make the journeys for passengers even jollier.
For bus driver Karl, ‘I’m in for Will’ is a charity close to his heart, as he and his wife Adelle are close friends with Caroline and Robert Calvert, parents of young William.
Jessica Remmer and Adelle Steinberg from 'I’m in for Will' said: “We would like to say a big thank you to the people of Sunderland and to Stagecoach North East for choosing to support 'I’m in for Will' as one of their charities this Christmas. The money raised will allow much needed research into treatment for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, the muscle wasting condition which means boys like William Calvert won't reach their 30th birthdays. On behalf of all at 'I'm in for Will' thank you very much."
Laura Smith, Operations Manager at the Sunderland depot, said: “We are always happy to support our drivers in their fundraising efforts and would like to commend them again on their dedication to making a difference during the festive period. I’d also like to thank all our passengers and the rest of the depot for giving so generously. Seeing Santa Claus driving the buses puts a smile on everyone’s face and is great fun for all involved.”
Across the six Stagecoach depots, staff raised an impressive £26,500 for various charities over the festive period, which included a donation for each depot from Stagecoach North East.