Sunderland’s Santa bus drivers donate cash to worthy causes

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Sunderland bus drivers who dressed up as Santa over the Christmas period have continued to spread festive cheer after donating £2,500 to two worthy charities following an annual fundraising campaign.

During December, bus drivers from Stagecoach North East swapped their uniforms for festive costumes in a bid to raise funds for dog charity Stray Aid and St Benedict’s Hospice.

Stagecoach drivers have given a generous donation to St Benedict's Hospice and Stray Aid.

Stagecoach drivers have given a generous donation to St Benedict's Hospice and Stray Aid.

To help boost the collection, staff handed out gifts including sweets and festive novelties.

Thanks to the generosity of passengers, £2,273 was collected on board throughout the month, with the bus company also contributing to the fundraising total.

Bus driver Oz McCormack said: “Stray Aid and St Benedict’s Hospice are both great causes working so hard in our local community and we are very proud to have helped them in this way.

“We would like to thank our passengers for supporting us and giving as generously as they did on their travels and hope we made their journey a little more fun and festive.”

Joining Oz were bus drivers Michael Heskett, John Burke, Kara Langley, Ian Alderson, Graeme Barnes, Rob Dixon, Nathan Pennock, Kevin Chisholm and Chris Marner.

The cheques have now been collected by both charities.

Laura Smith, operations manager for the Sunderland depot, said: “I’m really proud of our staff for going above and beyond and getting into the Christmas spirit by dressing up as Santa, all in the name of charity.

“They’ve raised a great amount, which will help to further boost the fantastic support provided by Stray Aid and St Benedict’s Hospice.

“Special thanks go to our passengers who kindly donated to the charities on board the buses.

“A large proportion of our staff get involved in charity, fundraising and community work throughout the year and we look forward to a successful 2018.”

St Benedict’s Hospice, situated in Ryhope, has been providing palliative care to the people of Sunderland and surrounding districts since 1984.

Catrina Flynn, head of fundraising operationssf for the hospice, said: “This generous donation is much appreciated and will support so many of the services that we offer to our patients and their families.”

Based in Coxhoe, Stray Aid’s mission is to rescue, re-unite or re-home the lost, abused, abandoned or unwanted dogs found on the streets across the north east.

Lee Henderson, community engagement manager at Stray Aid, said: “The donation really will make a difference to the charity and the dogs and cats in our care.”

Across the six north east Stagecoach depots, staff raised £22,750 for various charities over the festive period