"Virtual Santa" visits and sleigh rides to spread Christmas cheer in Rotherham

"Virtual Santa" visits and sleigh rides to spread Christmas cheer in Rotherham

By Michael Upton | 30/11/2020

'Virtual Santa' visits and sleigh rides to spread Christmas cheer in Rotherham


SANTA Claus is coming to town next month as two charity-minded social groups make a much-needed delivery of Christmas spirit.

Rotherham Round Table and Rotherham Sitwell Rotary Club are teaming up to launch Virtual Santa visits to give children the chance online to chat to the man himself, in return for a donation which will benefit good causes in the town.

And Round Table are bringing back their popular sleigh rides by the jolly festive favourite.

They said they were keen to take steps to ensure the annual sleigh ride tradition could be completed safely, including asking residents not to gather in groups at the roadside to welcome the sleigh or approach the float to make cash donations.

Instead, Round Table are launching an online fundraising page and a text donation service to make it easy for people to contribute without needing to dig out their small change.

The virtual Santa visits being coordinated by Rotary and Round Table and Rotary will run throughout December.

Children will be able to see Santa on his sleigh, tell him what they want to Christmas and assure him they have been good all year.

Round Table chairman James Fox said: “The sight of the sleigh coming down the road has been enjoyed by generations of kids growing up in the town and established itself as a much-loved Christmas tradition.

“Many of our members have grown up with this tradition and we all find it very rewarding to take part in the sleigh runs so we were determined not to let coronavirus put a stop to it.

“But we are appealing to everybody to celebrate safely by observing social distancing guidance. We don’t want to have to abandon any routes early because people are gathering in crowds.

“We are also happy to be working together with our friends in Rotary to launch a Virtual Santa service, which will allow people from across Rotherham to share the experience of seeing Santa while also supporting good causes in their neighbourhood.”

James added: “All proceeds from our Santa Sleigh runs go towards supporting charities and good causes in Rotherham, both large and small.

“But the pandemic means this year we can’t go to people’s doors to collect the donations we are so grateful to receive.

“Instead, we will be relying on online donations to continue our work with such charities as Rotherham Hospice, Maples Cancer Care Centre, Rotherham Rescue Rangers and Sense to name but a few.”

A spokesperson for Sitwell Rotary said: “As always, our aim is to bring some joy and happiness to the children of Rotherham at Christmas time after what has been a very difficult year.”

Details of how to make donations will be available on the Rotherham Round Table Facebook page, as well as a calendar of where the sleigh will visit and when.

To book online Virtual Santa sessions, which will cost £10 and be held through Zoom, visit http://santa.sitwellrotary.org.uk/.