Festive cheer as Santa rides on vintage fire engine through Portchester

PEOPLE were determined to spread some festive cheer as Father Christmas rode through Portchester.

Tuesday, 22nd December 2020, 7:00 am

Firefighters at Portchester Fire Station held their popular annual charity collection on Friday and Saturday, with Santa riding on top of a 1982 fire engine.

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But this year, rather than being on a ladder, Santa was positioned on a newly formed sleigh amid bright flashing lights and loud music to the delight of the community.

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On Saturday evening after setting off from the fire station, the engine headed north through the town as socially-distanced families embraced the ‘magic’ of the moment despite the bitter blow that much of the region was heading into a newly formed tier four.

The annual fundraising ritual, which was relaunched four years ago after its initial launch back in the 1970s, sees firefighters and Santa tour the area raising money for the Fire Fighters Charity and good community causes.

With around £4,000 raised in each of the last three years it is hoped a similar amount will be collected this year - with money due to be counted on Wednesday and banked on Thursday.

Firefighter Jasper Taylor, who is the charity and community organiser, said: ‘It was very well received and just what the community needed with tier four very much the topic of the evening.

Jasper Taylor (centre, back row) and the team of volunteers from Portchester Fire Station prepare for their annual fundrasing tour around the town on December 19, 2020 Pic: Mike Cooter

‘People were determined to make the most of the event. It was a great night and the kids loved it - they had a magic time.

‘Everyone was out cheering and having a good time but being sensible staying in their gardens and socially distancing.’

Enthusiast Paul Mckay, who delivered the vintage engine four years ago and donates all the lighting and decorations, provided a sleigh for Santa this year.

‘It was very impressive,’ Jasper said. ‘Normally Santa is on a ladder on the fire engine but we wanted to make things better from last year and came up with this idea.

‘It was very much well received and was nicely illuminated.’

During the four-mile journey, Father Christmas and the firefighters were also briefly joined by police who provided an escort.

‘They enjoyed it and made a donation,’ Jasper said.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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