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Virtual Santa Aims To Spread Festive Cheer

The Rotary Club of Derby has adapted its annual Santa Sleigh to spread joy and excitement to even more children this year and raise much needed funds for two charities who support some of the most vulnerable local young people. In normal times, the Club Santa Sleigh would visit families in Derby suburbs in return for donations. Due to the pandemic, such close contact may not be possible even in December, but organisers are determined not to disappoint children who traditionally enjoy seeing and meeting Santa in the approach to Christmas.

Thanks to the expertise of Derby digital agency Think3, families across the county and beyond can visit to book a personalised letter from Santa sent by email or post or a personalised recorded video from Santa. Families will be asked to donate money for the Santa experiences with all money raised being split between two established local charities.

Safe and Sound supports young people across Derbyshire who are victims of or at risk of child exploitation and Derbyshire Children’s Holiday Centre has, for the past 125 years, organised seaside holidays for disadvantaged children across the county.

Post-lockdown and subject to future restrictions, the Rotary Club of Derby hope to take out Santa and his sleigh to offer drive-by cheer to families who can watch from their windows and doorsteps with tours which will be videoed and online.

Les Bryan, President of the Rotary Club of Derby explained: “Our Santa Sleigh is a long-held tradition in the city – visiting suburbs such as Littleover, Mickleover and Chellaston. We are very grateful to our members, Think3 and to Safe and Sound and DCHC who have pooled their positivity and creativity to re-imagine the Santa Sleigh for these unprecedented times. Our hope is that even more children will enjoy a Santa experience this year and still have our fingers crossed that we can take the sleigh out again post-lockdown – albeit in a drive-by and therefore totally socially distanced way”.

“As well as bringing much needed festive cheer to families, we have raised thousands of pounds for local charities over the years.  Our aim this year is to generate even more much-needed funds for Safe and Sound and Derbyshire Children’s Holiday Centre this year who both support some of the most vulnerable children in our local communities.”

Safe and Sound CEO Tracy Harrison continued: “We have seen a dramatic rise in the recent months in the number of children and young people targeted and groomed by criminals – particularly online. “We are therefore extremely grateful that The Rotary Club of Derby has chosen to support us again this Christmas.  Funds raised will enable us to help and protect many more young people, provide a support lifeline to their families and continue to raise awareness of the dangers facing young people in our local communities.

Bill Tomlinson, a Trustee of Derbyshire Children’s Holiday Centre, concluded: “The Rotary Club of Derby’s Santa Sleigh is a much-anticipated event every year and I hope that families will embrace this new initiative.

“It will not only add to children’s excitement in the run-up to Christmas but also raise funds to support many disadvantaged children who benefit greatly from a week of fun, education and relaxation at the holiday home in Skegness.

“Christmas will be very different for many families this year and I doubt that children will be able to enjoy any kind of Santa’s Grotto experience this year.  Both DCHC and Safe and Sound will therefore ensure that our young people and their siblings can also experience the magic of Christmas albeit in this very different way.”

For more information and to make a donation or to book a letter or call from Santa, please visit