IT’S beginning to look a lot like Christmas – at least it is at children’s doll shop Adopt A Dolly in Albert Road, Southsea.
Store owner Gilly Stretton-Knowles has set up a Santa’s grotto inside her shop in order to raise money for Ickle Pickles, a charity that buys specialised equipment such as incubators and ventilators to help neonatal units provide high levels of care for poorly infants.
Ms Stretton-Knowles, 35, of Baffins, said: ‘Our ultimate goal is to raise as much as £2,000 for the Ickle Pickles charity based at Queen Alexandra Hospital caring for poorly newborns, while also giving our junior customers a magical and believable Santa experience.’
The grotto is running on Saturdays and Sundays.
Ms Stretton-Knowles has also enlisted the help of her daughters Olivia, nine, and Sienna, seven, as the elves to add to the festive cheer.
The money will be raised through photos with Santa at the grotto experience as well as the Adopt A Dolly team dressing up in their Christmas outfits and going out with their donations buckets in Albert Road. Santa’s role is being filled by Arthur Smith-Weston of Phix-Pix Photo and Graphic Solutions in Eastney Road.
Phix Pix also donated the photography and graphics for the project.
Mr Smith-Weston is allergic to fake beards and wigs so has grown his first proper beard. Wanting to make the role believable, he has also made his own Father Christmas costume.
Ms Stretton-Knowles said: ‘We are hoping we will get lots of people to donate in our buckets.’
Before the children go into the grotto parents fill out a questionnaire about their child’s pets, siblings and hobbies.
Santa has the chance to read it through before he meets the children so he can chat with them, and also gives them a little present.
To find out more about the Santa’s grotto at Adopt A Dolly visit the website at adoptadolly.co.uk.
To find out more about Ickle Pickles visit icklepickles.org.