Bus drivers from Newcastle raised thousands for charity by spreading festive fun as they drove during their annual charity campaign in the run up to Christmas.
During December, Stagecoach North East bus drivers from depots in Walkergate and Slatyford 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.
Customers once again showed generosity in their thousands, with £5,400 collected on board by Walkergate drivers for Tiny Lives Trust and Children North East, whilst drivers at the Slatyford depot raised £9,400 for the Chronicle Sunshine Fund and Northumbria Blood Bikes.
This year, the Christmas Stagecoach charity bus visited Newcastle for a whole week, with the merrily dressed bus featuring specially designed festive vinyl coverings. Slatyford staff members Jon Middlemiss and Shaun Cree were looking after the ‘Grotto’, with Jon dressed as Santa Claus and his little ‘elf’ helper giving away festive freebies and promoting the good work of the charities.
The Chronicle Sunshine Fund is a North East based charity enhancing the lives of disabled children and their families in our region by providing equipment to suit their specialist needs. Northumbria Blood Bikes is a charitable organisation established by local volunteers to deliver essential blood and other urgent medical supplies out of hours between hospitals and healthcare sites in North East England.
Siobhan Sargeant, Charity Director at The Chronicle Sunshine Fund, said: "Once again, the team at Stagecoach North East have gone above and beyond with this year’s Christmas collections and Santa Bus. Not only have they raised a phenomenal amount, which will have a huge impact on children living with disabilities here in our region, they have brought so much joy and Christmas cheer to commuters, shoppers, school children and other passengers in the process.
“The Santa Bus was visited by many of our families who were so happy to have such an inclusive and relaxed environment for kids to see Santa, it really has made Christmas special."
Kirsty Lawrence, Publicity Officer for Northumbria Blood Bikes, said: "We would like to thank all of the team at Stagecoach for supporting Northumbria Blood Bikes again with their Santa bus. Not only has it been a fantastic publicity opportunity for us but the effort they have put into their fundraising has been phenomenal. The awareness they have driven about us and our work is invaluable as a small local charity. Without the support of the public and businesses we would not be able to continue to serve those that require our help across the North East."
Children North East supports families across the region to ensure children and young people grow up healthy and happy, while The Tiny Lives Trust helps to care for premature and sick new-born babies and their families on the Neonatal Unit at the RVI, Newcastle.
Carol Taylor, senior fundraiser with Children North East, said: "This was the sixth year running that the generous passengers and drivers of Stagecoach raised funds for Children North East over Christmas. In the last year fundraising like this has helped change the lives of 3,744 babies, children and young people. We're so grateful for such continuing support that goes towards creating a brighter future for the region's children and their families."
Louise Carroll, Community and Events Fundraiser for Tiny Lives, said: “The staff at Stagecoach make a lot of passengers very happy when they dress up in their Christmas outfits to fundraise for Tiny Lives. They enter into the festive spirit every Christmas - and have done for many years now - and their fundraising helps so many local families at a very difficult time. We can’t thank them enough for their wonderful energy, enthusiasm, and long term support for our work with premature babies and their families.”
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.