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Thousands of children visit Belfry’s free Santa’s Grotto and Christmas windfall for charities

More than 5,000 visitors to the Belfry’s free Santa’s Grotto also helped a number of local charities to have a very special Christmas too.

Following the Centre’s Greatest Show Lights Switch On event, which included a £1,000 giveaway competition, families visiting the free Grotto from 1 December until Christmas Eve were treated to a free carousel ride on the way in to meet Santa as well as free antler hats and gift. They were also invited to make a donation to the Belfry’s three Christmas charities, Stripey Stork, which supports local families, George and the Giant Pledge, which fundraises for children with cancer at the Royal Marsden Hospital, and international wildlife charity, the Born Free Foundation. Donations raised £1,500, which was shared between the charities.

Throughout the Christmas holidays the Centre provided a host of free entertainment including The Greatest Showman movie, colouring competition and fun ‘Aunt Sally’ photoboards. Christmas stalls and chair-o-plane rides added to the atmosphere. Twenty lucky competition winners also won a special Breakfast with Santa at Marks & Spencer.

More local charities get cash boost from generous Belfry shoppers

Many more charities benefitted from kind-hearted shoppers over the festive period. A charity giftwrapping service from a different local charity most days in December raised many hundreds of pounds, as well as awareness of local charities. Collections for Stripey Stork families and the Winter Night Shelter for local homeless people attracted numerous goods from visitors to the Centre. Carols in the Belfry was attended by more than 700 people, including the Mayor, raising £1,000 for charity. Christmas Jumper Day raised £200, while charity and local school choirs, along with the Salvation Army Band, performed every weekend in December.

The previous month, the Belfry’s WWI Centenary tributes, activities and poppy sales raised a remarkable £24,000 for the Royal British Legion.

Andy Nash said, “Yet again we have been overwhelmed by the kindness of the Redhill community at Christmas. Santa’s Grotto at the Belfry has been free to visit for several years, helping to make Christmas a magical experience for many thousands of children in the area and we are always delighted with the goodwill of our shoppers towards making Christmas special for so many others too.”