Christmas Collections

Seaford Rotary Club wish to thank the people of Seaford for the successful Rotary Christmas collections around the streets of Seaford during seventeen December evenings and static in Broad Street on four Saturday mornings, with Father Christmas in his Sleigh of Goodwill.
Luckily the weather this year was relatively kind with only 3 wet evenings. There were 56 participants undertaking the roles of Contact Man (leader on the night), sleigh transport driver, support drivers and the door to door volunteer collectors. Many did several nights and some Saturdays.
The real stars of these collections were, however, the people of Seaford and their children who came out to see Father Christmas and flocked around the new ‘green’ transporter and sleigh. The kindness of folks was outstanding and enabled Seaford Rotary Club to achieve, yet again, a record collection of over £10,300 which is a 4% increase on the sum collected in December 2015.
Compared with the money collected in December 1999 when the sleigh was first used, this sum is a 63.3% increase.
Seaford Rotary Club are very grateful to the people of Seaford who gave this money, particularly as there are so many other demands on their money at this time of year.
All the monies collected, after the deduction of expenses, has been put into our Charitable Trust for dispersement to local charities and other good causes in the Seahaven area.
Since the sleigh was commissioned in 1999 and including 2016, the people of Seaford have given over £145,000 to Seaford Rotary Club in the December Christmas collections which has enabled the Club to support local good causes.
Once again, our 2016 Sleigh of Goodwill collections were joyous occasions and our grateful thanks go to:
• the Scouts for letting us operate from their base in Chichester Road;
• Crosbies for the use of their changing facilities in Broad Street;
• our volunteers for giving their time to support Father Christmas;
• the people of Seaford for their generosity.
Seaford Rotary Club are also grateful to the various householders who provided Father Christmas and the door to door collectors with hot refreshments such as sausage rolls, mince pies, mulled wine and hot chocolate.
On Saturday 3rd December, the Sleigh of Goodwill was present in Broad Street as part of the Seaford Magic celebrations. This event was only the third time that the new transport for the sleigh had been seen in public since its delivery in late November. The other two occasions were in the evenings of the previous two December days when Father Christmas was taken around the streets of Seaford.
In the morning, the sleigh was positioned in Broad Street to enable Father Christmas to hear what the children of Seaford wished to receive for Christmas. The sleigh played carols and other seasonal music.
Seaford Rotary Club are grateful to the people of Seaford for their donations, when there were many other collections and stalls to which they could take their contributions.
Later in the day Father Christmas on the Rotary Sleigh of Goodwill joined the procession led by Seaford Bonfire Society from Church Street via Steyne Road and Saxon Lane past the stalls and other attractions to the stage in Broad Street where a sizeable crowd saw him switch on the Christmas lights.
Our new “green” vehicle was interestingly slower on the road with a maximum speed of 15 mph, but it enabled the collections to be completed quicker, primarily due to the manoeuvrability of the vehicle compared to the previous car and trailer, and notwithstanding that the new electric truck could access cul-de-sacs and either turnaround or reverse out when previously access was not practicable.
A good example of this was the steep gradients of East Dean Rise and West Dean Rise off Vale Road. Both of these dead-end roads were not accessible in 2015, but the new vehicle could reach the top and though not able to turn around due to the proximity of cars parked on the hill, the new electric truck was able to reverse back down to Vale Road.
The drivers of the new ‘green’ sleigh transport with Rudolph looking over the shoulder of each driver were very conscious of the need for being on the lookout for children dashing out, although the real culprits were the Rotarians who crossed in front of the electric truck gaily unthinking, in the expectation that they would not be squashed like a hedgehog.
In many cases, it may have been due to the quietness of the electric motor compared to the more common noise from a diesel or petrol engine.
In many cases, parents were keen for their children to meet Santa.
At one cul-de-sac in another part of town, there was a deputation of children and mothers who came to the junction with the main road to see if Father Christmas was to go down their road as this road had not been included previously in December collection visits. On other occasions, children were bundled into their parent’s car and driven around Seaford until Father Christmas was located.
This year there appears to have been a larger number of children photographed by their parents standing by the sleigh or sitting on the knees of Father Christmas, who naturally welcomed any child who wanted to see him and talk about their wishes for presents at Christmas, but on several occasions these photographic sessions resulted in Father Christmas becoming separated from the Rotarian and volunteer collectors.
This was particularly so when one lady wanted to take a photograph of Father Christmas with her pet dog sitting on his lap. Father Christmas was willing for one photograph but was slightly perturbed when the dog was handed back as a second image was considered necessary since the first was not good enough.
Generally, people of Seaford thought that the new vehicle was a distinct improvement on the previous car and trailer, although many thought that there should be some illumination at the front over the cab.
There were a few teething problems with the new vehicle. One was that the lights around Santa went out when the battery ran dead. It had been fully charged at the start of the month but ran out of power after 8 nights. It appears that the slave battery supply was insufficient to replace charge used each night, and so for subsequent nights the battery was recharged separately. This a problem that is to be resolved fully in discussions with the specialist company in Oxfordshire who converted the vehicle to a truck.

posted: Monday, 26 December 2016

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