Santa’s Successful Sleigh Ride with the Rotary

3 Jan 2014
Santa’s Sleigh delighted our Bramhall children again this Christmas 2013 – all to raise money for our local groups. Dr Harry Hill kindly let us know the history of the sleigh and the hard working groups involved this year.

“The whole thing started over 30 yrs ago when then members of Bramhall Round Table decided to have a mobile Santa to collect for charity and, of course, delight the children of Bramhall. Round Table is an offshoot of Rotary and caters for people up to the age of forty, when, by convention, they join the local Rotary club. By happy chance, one of those members, Tony Burch, owned a trailer-making company and he was able to adapt an existing trailer chassis to take a covered body which would protect Santa from the worst of December’s weather while displaying him to the crowds.

It was decided fairly early on that local charities and other worthy causes would be involved in the collecting of donations, since it is demanding of time and effort, and the Tablers themselves could not do it alone. This arrangement still pertains.

In recent years membership of Bramhall Round Table has dwindled as young people find it increasingly difficult to make time away from work and family. The remaining members approached Bramhall and Woodford Rotary Club to see if they would take over the running of the float. After some discussion it was agreed that B+W Rotary would indeed carry on the popular tradition. After 30 years of hard labour the float and sleigh were rather careworn and it was decided that a thorough overhaul was required. During the summer of 2012, stalwart Rotarians stripped the float to the original chassis and set about renovating it. After many man hours of effort the structure was fit to send to a professional trailer builder who produced the new, impressive float.

Naturally, some of this work cost money, and various people were approached for donations. The real star was NFU Mutual which provided £1500 without any arm-twisting! The rebuild of the float was done at cost price by Lynton Trailers (UK), and materials for the new sleigh were provided by Mark Davenport (Builders). The sleigh was designed by Maggie Hill and built by her two sons-in-law, Andrew Tucker and Chris Raistrick, with other members of her family wielding paint brushes. A particular feature is the lighting of the sleigh which changes colour every few seconds.

For the last two Christmases the float has been organised by Bramhall and Woodford Rotary Club but the original Round Tablers still provide a great deal of help and manpower. Each night is manned by a different organisation, ranging from Scout groups to Walthew House, a small Stockport charity helping the blind an/or deaf of the borough. Different areas of Bramhall are covered each evening and each session takes about two and a half hours (but more at weekends). It can be a cold and wet job, but the sight of joyful children with Santa is a great motivator.

In order to ensure that all participants get a fair share of the donations the entire sum collected is pooled and divided equally between them (after small running costs). Very kindly County Van Hire charge a very small fraction of their normal rates in a gesture of great generosity. This year, the amount to be divided up is about £5,600.

Thanks to the efforts of Bramhall and Woodford Rotary Club and their Round Table colleagues, Santa has a glowing future on the streets of Bramhall; and of course to the generous residents of Bramhall for their valued contributions”

The groups involved this year were: 2nd Bramhall Scouts, Stockport U11 Rugby, Sabre Scouts, National Childbirth Trust, Woodford Scout/Guides, Rotary Club, 4th Bramhall Scouts, Wellspring, The Mill, Queensgate PTA, Ladybrook PTA, Bramhall High School, Walthew House, 2nd Phoenix Explorer Scouts.

There may be a spare night next year for other groups – anyone wishing to join next year please contact the Rotary.

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