Father Christmas spreads festive cheer in Portchester fire engine

FATHER Christmas was out spreading festive cheer to the people of Portchester – in an old fashioned fire engine transformed for Christmas.

Friday, 20th December 2019, 7:19 pm
Updated Monday, 23rd December 2019, 3:41 pm

Portchester Fire Station’s annual fundraising ritual, which was relaunched three years ago after its initial launch back in the 1970s, sees firefighters and Santa tour the area.

Money is raised for the Fire Fighters Charity and also for numerous good community causes.

The last two years have seen £8,000 raised with it hoped a similar amount will be donated this time.

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Father Christmas and the Grinch take their seats on top of the fire engine. Picture: Sarah Standing (201219-4012)

Volunteers with buckets packed into an old engine known as a Dennis Pump Escape transformed into a sea of Christmas lights with Santa sat at the back, while firefighters followed the tour in a new engine.

Firefighter Jasper Taylor, who is the charity and community organiser, said: ‘It is a really good community event that started 30 years ago but stopped before we started it up again a few years ago.

‘We travel around in a vintage fire engine and raise money for good causes in the community that are not so well known about.

‘Lots of people donate in the streets as Santa passes through. Everyone is so generous and the money we are able to raise shows the support we have from the community.

The decorated fire engine owned by Paul McKay, raising money for the Fire Fighters Charity. Picture: Sarah Standing (201219-3980)

‘It is something that has been passed down from generation to generation in the area. We now have firefighters who were kids when it first started now out doing the tour.’

Enthusiast Paul Mckay, bought the vintage engine four years ago and donates all the lighting and decorations on the engine. He said: ‘It is amazing doing this for the community. I love it. The reactions we get from everyone is brilliant and all the money raised helps so many good causes.’

He was supported by Paul Strong, dressed as Santa.

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Firefighters from Portchester Fire Station and their families. Picture: Sarah Standing (201219-4026)

Firefighter Andy Earl, whose dad Roy was one of the original firefighters in the 1970s to take part in the fundraiser, said: ‘It’s something that has been done in the community for a long time and is well supported with lots of people coming out to donate for causes that do not necessarily get a lot of attention.’

‘The tradition has gone full cycle with many of the firefighters today being children whose dads were firefighters at the station many years ago.’

Firefighter from Portchester and Fareham fire station Sophie Exton-Woodford. Picture: Sarah Standing (201219-4031)
Paul McKay, owner of the fire engine. Picture: Sarah Standing (201219-3990)