AS THE Round Table got ready to take Father Christmas around Bromsgrove for his nine-date tour of the district, Standard editor Tristan Harris joined him and the organisation’s volunteers as they embarked on his annual sleigh ride.
WITH the Met Office putting out a weather warning for heavy rain and strong winds on Santa’s opening night in Bromsgrove, I was a tad apprehensive about what the evening would have in store.
But nothing gets in the way of the man in the big red suit.
After getting the sleigh ready for its journey and with festive favourites belting out from loudspeakers, including Jingle Bells,
White Christmas and – fittingly – Santa Claus is Coming to Town, it was up, up and away for Father Christmas, me and the six volunteers from the Round Table, the 41 Club and the Ladies Circle.
Penine Road was the first road the sleigh toured and, despite the wind and rain – which thankfully was not as bad as forecast – families came out to greet us as Father Christmas was ho ho ho-ing, ringing his bell and wishing everyone a very merry Christmas.
Isobel Davey, who is eight and from Lickey End, was staying with her aunt Tasmin and 18-month-old Josh.
She had been eagerly awaiting Santa’s arrival in the road and said: “I think he’s amazing – I saw him last year and I’m glad I’ve seen him this year as well.”
“I think it’s really good for the kids that the Round Table does this,” added Tamsin.
With cash collected for good causes and Penine Road residents feeling that little bit more Christmassy, it was onto Lea Park Rise.
One of the youngsters who came out to meet the sleigh was Robbie Sayers who was over the moon to climb aboard the sleigh and have his picture taken with Father Christmas.
“This is awesome,” said the Meadows First School youngster. “I wait for him to come around every year.”
His dad Roger added: “He loves it – he couldn’t wait for Father Christmas.”
But it was not just youngsters who look forward to the Santa Sleigh tour.
Ann Preece’s daughter Georgia is studying media at Lincoln University.
This would have been the first year she would have missed it – but help was at hand.
As soon as Ann heard the sleigh, she Skyped Georgia on her tablet and then took it outside so she could see Father Christmas’ arrival.
“Every year we have come out to see him. Georgia has always looked forward to it – even now at the age of 18.”
Some watched from their windows, some came out and followed the sleigh down the road, while others photographed or filmed what truly was a magical evening.
Seeing the delight and wonderment on the children’s faces – many of them braving the elements in their PJs and dressing gowns – made it all worthwhile.
I got well into the Christmas spirit and the two hours (like Santa) flew by.
Residents gave so generously to support the good causes the Round Table fund-raises for and, at the end of the night, with jangling buckets and a heart-warming festive glow, we headed back to put the sleigh to bed.
Bromsgrove Round Table chairman Jon Lear said: “It was a great first night.
“Usually a lot of people wait indoors and watch from their windows in the warm on nights like this.
“But tonight more people than normal came out.
“It is the reaction from the public which keeps us all going.”
Last year, the Round Table’s Santa Sleigh raised £5,000 for good causes – with £2,000 of that going to Bromsgrove’s Life After Stroke Centre to pay for some specialist equipment.
And if the reaction we had tonight continues for the rest of the run, there will be a lot more cash collected and a lot more causes out there benefiting.
On Friday (December 12), also from 6.15pm, he will visit the new Catshill estate, Lickey End and Townsend Farm.
On Sunday (December 14), from 3pm, Santa will be in Stoke Heath.
On December 16, Rutherford Road and Harwood Park will be getting visits from Father Christmas from 6.15pm and, the day after – December 17 – he will go to Charford.
The final weekday visits will see Santa in Breme Park, Fordhouse Road, Blackwood Road and Bant Mill Road on December 18 and in Deansway, Forelands, Hill Top and Greyfriars on December 19 – both of those will be at 6.15pm.
And the last weekend of the Bromsgrove Round Table Santa run will see the sleigh pull up at Morrisons from 9am to 5pm on December 20 and on The Oakalls on December 21 from 4.30pm.
Anyone wanting more information can email email@example.com or visit www.facebook.com/roundtablegbi to check out the event on Facebook.
Alternatively, follow @BromsgroveTable on Twitter.
The Round Table is always looking for good local causes to support – anyone who has any they feel deserve supporting should email them to firstname.lastname@example.org
Ann Preece with her daughter Georgia on Skype, watching the action from Lincoln.
Father Christmas with eight-year-old Robbie Sayers.
The volunteers and Santa with the sleigh.
Father Christmas with Standard editor Tristan Harris.
Father Christmas delighted residents while volunteers collected cash for good causes.
Father Christmas on the Round Table sleigh. Pictures by Tristan Harris.