Bus drivers across South Shields and Sunderland raised thousands for charity by spreading festive fun as they drove during their annual charity campaign in the run up to Christmas.
During December, drivers from local bus operator Stagecoach North East swapped their uniforms for festive costumes, bringing a smile to the faces of young and old passengers alike and encouraging them to dig deep for their chosen charities.
To bring seasonal cheer, staff handed out festive treats and customers once again showed generosity in their thousands, with £2,500 collected on board by South Shields drivers for CLIC Sargent, whilst drivers at the Sunderland depot raised £1,500 for St Benedict’s Hospice and Street Paws.
Street Paws promotes animal welfare and relieves the suffering of animals by providing free of charge veterinary care and emergency kennel space, to animals owned by people who are homeless, vulnerably housed or other vulnerable groups severely affected by poverty.
To further aid Street Paws' cause, members of the team at Sunderland oversaw collections of essential items for people and dogs to donate in time for Christmas. Donations were received at all Stagecoach North East depots from staff, customers and local passers-by.
Michelle Southern, Founder of Street Paws, said: “Street Paws supports dogs across the North East with free veterinary care and emergency kennel space. To have such amazing support from the whole team at Stagecoach has been tremendous. The fabulous donations and Christmas presents collected were overwhelming and we have distributed across our three outreach areas."
St. Benedict’s Hospice, situated in Ryhope, is a centre for specialist palliative care and through its ranges of services, which include a 14-bed in-patient unit, out-patient clinics and day care services, it provides complete support for patients and their families as they live through the most difficult of times.
Lisa Peverley, Community Fundraiser for St Benedicts' Hospice, said: "Thank you so much to Stagecoach for making this huge donation from their festive campaign over December. We are honoured that they have been working hard to raise funds and awareness for us again, as they have now for many years, this wonderful donation makes a real difference to the lives of our patients and their families. We whole heartedly thank all of the staff at Stagecoach and their customers for their ongoing kindness and support.”
CLIC Sargent is the UK’s leading cancer charity for children, young people and their families, providing clinical, practical, financial and emotional support to help them cope with cancer and get the most out of life.
Taking part in the seasonal campaign for his final year was veteran bus driver Kenny Ramsay. Kenny, 67, has driven in his Santa costume for the last nine Decembers, five of which have been in support of CLIC Sargent. As he moves on from Stagecoach to a new challenge, CLIC Sargent were eager to show their appreciation for his fundraising efforts.
Dee Tyler, CLIC Sargent Fundraising Engagement Manager for the North East and Cumbria, said: “We are so thankful to all the drivers and staff at Stagecoach as well as the wonderfully generous customers of South Tyneside for this donation. Special thanks must go to Ken Ramsey who has been doing this for us for the last five years. In that time Stagecoach has raised over £14,000 for CLIC Sargent for the children and young people with cancer, and their families we work with.
“This is more than enough to pay for 82 of our grants. It’s not the first thing most families think about upon diagnosis but cancer can have a huge effect on a family’s finances. A CLIC Sargent grant helps families meet the sudden extra costs that a cancer diagnosis can bring. With Stagecoach’s help we can let these families concentrate more on what really matters, their child.”
Steve Walker, Managing Director for Stagecoach North East, said: "Our staff have once again raised a fantastic amount and have gone above and beyond by thoroughly getting into the Christmas spirit, all in the name of charity. Special thanks go to our passengers who kindly donated to the charities on board the buses, which will help to further boost the fantastic support provided by these wonderful charities."
Across the six Stagecoach depots, staff raised an impressive £20,000 for various charities over the festive period, which included a donation for each depot from Stagecoach North East.