Father Christmas and his helpers at the Rotary Club of Daventry Danetre are getting set for this year’s Santa’s Sleigh Collection.
It simply would not be Christmas in Daventry without Santa having first made his rounds to check up on who’s been naughty or nice!
For the 51st year running Santa and his sleigh will tour Daventry and the surrounding villages, starting from Tuesday, December 1.
The visit of Father Christmas for many Daventry residents marks the true start of the festive season. And it is a community event with the spirit of Christmas at its very heart – people giving up their time on cold winter nights, and the money, to help local good causes and people in real need.
Bob Snedker from Rotary said: “I absolutely love doing it, I look forward to it every year.”
While Santa says hello to people young and old, his helpers will be collecting for a host of local charities.
Last year the sleigh collection totalled £11,940.14.
The event has been running since Christmas 1965 when it was started by the Daventry Round Table. For the past 10 years it has been run by Danetre Rotary Club.
In its 51 years, it is thought the collection has brought in some £360,000 – all of which has been spent on local good causes.
Over the years the reasons behind the tour have evolved.
Originally it was a fundraiser for the group organising it – both the Round Table and Rotary raised money through the event and others which they use to fund community groups and other local charities. Although the Rotarians also help national and international causes, they ring-fence the Santa Sleigh collection for local use.
The sleigh tour soon became a feature of the festive season in the town, and the organisers are aware that the fundraising event has become an annual community event.
The way the fundraising works has changed over the years. Originally Santa’s helpers were all Rotarians or volunteers supporting the Rotary Club.
But over the years the tour found itself struggling to get enough volunteers from its ranks due to age and smaller numbers.
These days Santa’s helpers are volunteers from a whole range of local charities and good causes, including the Rotary Club. For every man-hour their volunteers put in, they get a corresponding share of the money raised.
Groups start getting in touch to take part as early as September and this year all the slots were taken by the end of last week.
The opening up of the collection to such groups has seen the sleigh travelling beyond its usual limits, and now visits places like Byfield to ensure the money can benefit the places it is collected from.
Charities and groups involved in this year’s collection include the Friends of Newnham School, Long Buckby Hockey Club, Anniemals, Children Come First (Daventry), Byfield Nursery, Daventry Dolphins Swimming Club, Welton Academy PTA, Barby Primary School, Daventry Guide Dogs, Reach For Health, Daventry Rugby Club, Daventry ATC, Homestart, as well as a range of local Guide, Brownies, Rainbows and Scout groups.
All of them will benefit from the donations made.
The sleigh tour this year runs as follows:
Tuesday, December 1, Newnham and Badby.
Wednesday, December 2, Long Buckby Rugby Club and Long Buckby Market Square.
Thursday, December 3 Danetre Drive and St Andrews Drive, the Southbrook. Friday, December 4, Welton. Monday December 7, Barby and Kilsby. Tuesday, December 8, Timken, the Headlands. Wednesday, December 9, Nether Heyford, The Inlands. Thursday, December 10, Ashby Fields, Middlemore. Friday, December 11, Stefen Hill, Braunston. Monday December 14, Everdon and Flore, Daventry’s New Forest and Royal Gardens. December 15, the Grange and Cherry Orchard. December 16, Weedon. December 17, Daneholme and The Dingle/The Slade. December 18, Lang Farm, Monksmoor. Saturday December 19, Byfield.
Monday December 21, Daventry town centre, Drayton, and Staverton.
Santa, his sleigh and his helpers will also be in Daventry’s Bowen Square on Saturdays (December 5, 12 and 19) from 9am to around 1pm.
Finally, Santa’s last stop on his tour will be at Daventry Country Park on the morning of Tuesday December 22.