Bus driving Santa helps raise money for good causes

HO HO HO First Bus driver Darren Smith dressed as Santa to raise money for Naomi House.  Picture: Paul Jacobs (114401-3)
HO HO HO First Bus driver Darren Smith dressed as Santa to raise money for Naomi House. Picture: Paul Jacobs (114401-3)
Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

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SANTA traditionally drives a sleigh.

But if you happened to catch a bus in the area this week you might have been surprised to find him sat behind the wheel.

Staff at the First bus company decorated one of their buses this week to bring smiles to the faces of their customers – and raise some money for charity.

Driver Darren Smith, 45, was chosen to drive the bus around Fareham, Gosport and Portsmouth.

He said: ‘I expect most passengers were a bit surprised to see Father Christmas driving their bus.

‘But this is a bit of fun and is designed to both raise a smile from our customers and raise some money for a good cause.

‘This is about brightening up the day and having a bit of fun in the week before Christmas.

‘We hope people get on board and appreciate the effort we’re going to to raise a smile.’

First staff were raising money for the Naomi House children’s hospice in Winchester.

Matt Kitchin, general manager at First Hampshire and Dorset, said: ‘The idea for this came from our staff manager Bill Sprake.

‘We felt it was a great idea, helping to get all our staff and customers in the festive mood.’

The bus drivers will count up how much money they have raised next week.

They also received a cash boost from the family of a woman who left First bus drivers £50 in her will.

The drivers decided to put the money into the collection for Naomi House.

Staff manager Bill Sprake said: ‘We wanted to do something to cheer our customers up so I came up with the idea of doing a Father Christmas bus.

‘We wanted to try and do it so it would involve our whole area from Fareham and Gosport into Portsmouth.

‘So we chose Darren because that’s his route.

‘We decided to get a charity involved as well because we work hard to do things for charities in the area.

‘It went down really well. Darren was getting lots of comments from people.’

For information about bus times in the area over Christmas and the new year, visit firstgroup.com/hampshire.