A Christmas campaign has raised a grand total of £1,829 for a local charity, thanks to the generosity of passengers who travelled on the specially decorated 'Santa Bus'.
Throughout December, Santa was behind the wheel of a Stagecoach bus, which served all areas across Havant, Portsmouth & Waterlooville, raising money for Sam's Haven, a charity who provide short respite holidays at a Haven Holiday Park, for families who have children with a life threatening or terminal illness.
Colin Ashcroft , Stagecoach Operations Manager for the area said that the traditionally decorated Santa Bus, complete with festive music and gifts for children, and driven by Santa himself , proved popular with customers, particularly families.
He said “Our santa bus has become a great tradition for the local community and each year we receive such great feedback that this year we decided on launching it earlier, at the start of December, to maximise the opportunities for our customers to enjoy the festive ride."
“We are delighted to be supporting Sam's Haven and I’m sure that our customers will be pleased knowing that they have helped raise such an amazing amount for a great charity".
The 2016 Santa bus team included bus driver Douglas Cook as Santa, along with 'Elf's' Emma-Jane Bryant and Charlotte Lilly, who all went above and beyond, and really got into the Christmas spirit.
Paul Merrick, from Sam's Haven said: “We are incredibly grateful to Colin and his team at Stagecoach in Portsmouth for choosing to support our charity and to the passengers who have given so generously.”
The Sam's Haven charity was set up three years ago to provide short respite holidays for severely ill children in the area, by Paul and Louise Merrick, after being inspired by their son Sam who has spent much of his life in hospital with on-going complications.
Paul added ‘It’s amazing how a three or four-day break can make a world of difference to these families".~
For more information and how to donate, please visit the Sam’s Haven website
Photo: Paul Merrick from Sam's Haven (centre) with Stagecoach's Santa (Douglas Cook) and his helpful Elf (Emma-Jayne Bryant)