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Fantastic Christmas fundraising results

Hi Sunshine News readers,

Wow what a week! I’m still recovering from some news we had this time last Friday in all honesty.

Last week I headed over to the Stagecoach Slatyford Depot in Newcastle’s West end, giant cheque in hand and still no idea of the final amount raised through our Santa Grotto bus and the drivers collections. While the final amount raised by the Stagecoach super stars was yet to be disclosed, Assistant Ops Manager, Shaun Anderson, did mention that they had exceeded last years amount which I knew was almost £6,000….

I was greeted by Operations Manager Carl Trodden, Shaun and drivers Jon Middlemiss, Shaun Cree and Conrad Wigham, who you might know as our Santa’s and their elf Whizzbang and it was lovely to see them all in their usual Stagecoach uniforms, no glitter or fake snow in sight! I headed through to the Ops office where a presentation was set up on the screens to disclose the final total.

Tension was building and I could tell from the giggles and whispering that there was big news coming. I wasn’t wrong! Stagecoach raised a staggering £12,469.71 for us through their on the bus collections and Santa's Grotto Bus.

I was speechless (Regular readers will know, I could talk the hind legs off a donkey so this does not happen often) and immediately burst into happy tears! You see, amounts like this can help us quickly clear items from our current waiting lists and make a real difference to the lives of children living with life limiting illnesses.

We currently have wheelchairs, beds and seating equipment to be funded for children patiently waiting which runs into the thousands of pounds. But that wasn’t the reason for the tears, well not entirely. These guys went above and beyond because they believe in the ethos of this small charity, and that’s what means the absolute world to us.

If you know any of the drivers who took part at Christmas and dressed up every day, in particular Santa and Whizz Bang, you should be immensely proud of them for putting their absolute all into their annual Christmas fundraising for us. We are proud and grateful beyond words.

This is community fundraising at its finest so thank you to every single person who visited the grotto or passenger who donated on a bus in December. These funds will support us hugely as we enter a new year with yet more equipment to fund in such uncertain economic times.

The final figure really is a testament to the kindness and generosity of people in our region. In addition to the fundraising, we know how much joy and magic these guys spread to children, and adults at Christmas, it was truly priceless.

We saw Santa record personal messages to kids at the Great North Children’s Hospital, sing along with visitors, as well as say hi to FaceTimer’s on the other side of the world! These were honestly some of the most special moments I’ve had whilst working for this amazing charity.

A huge thanks also to the Stagecoach Slatyford Depot Management Team who have worked hard behind the scenes to make this all possible, they even ran a depot raffle to add even more the final total! Thank you for being our cheerleaders, I hope you realise what you mean to us and our families. I for one can’t wait for Christmas 2023 to see what we can achieve!

Last Friday also saw the return of our Sunshine Families sessions ran by our very talented Family Coordinator’s, Bev and Rachel. The sessions were packed throughout the day and once again provided our families with a free, accessible, and inclusive activity for all of their children to enjoy together in the school holidays.

The theme for this month’s session was Narnia and so Rachel went one step further (as she tends to do) and raided her ever expanding costume department at home, to take part as the Snow Queen herself.

Thanks to the team at Cruddas Park Surgery for sharing their Community Space with us to host the sessions. Let’s see what the ladies have up their sleeves for Easter!

That’s all from me this week. Next week I’ll be handing over our column to Lauren in her last week with Team Sunshine to share some of her favourite memories in her almost 6 years with the charity. Get your tissues ready!

Siobhan x