2004 Public Service

Our 2nd Santa’s Sleigh, and International Aid in a time of desperate need

Santa Cliff Calvert gets a special hug from a young admirer

It seems that Santa’s Sleigh returned to Allendale’s Market Square on Saturday the 18th of December, and there was a steady queue of children waiting to convey their wishes to the courtly gent. I’m intrigued at how the fairy lights were arranged on this outing in Allendale, underneath a gigantic parasol I believe, but somehow I also think that the little child’s hug says it all, really, about the festive season.

It’s also conceivable that the sleigh (either borrowed still from Tynedale Lions, or on permanent loan to us, it’s not clear yet when we acquired the fantasy vehicle for our very own) may have made a repeat appearance five days later when some 50 intrepid folks sang carols around a burning brazier with roasted chestnuts and mince pies on offer. This turnout was a dramatic improvement on that of 2003’s season.

I believe George Newman led the carols and they were most likely a capella this year. The Allendale Lions were heartened by the sense of community spirit, however, and resolved to make this event an annual festive season tradition.

Fortified by a foray into the locals, we were ready for Christmas Day for sure, and then a Boxing Day siesta, or perhaps a bracing walk on the high fellsides to rejuvenate those aching tummy muscles?! But disaster afar entered our consciousness sometime on that momentous day. It was the awful Boxing Day Tsunami around the basin of the Indian Ocean.

The tsunami laid waste to vast tracts of coast around Sumatra and India on Boxing Day, 2004.

The world was overwhelmed with emotion for the hundreds of thousands of souls who had been swept out to sea, or inundated in the gigantic wave that broached the shoreline. The tragedy had an immediate effect on people’s consciousness, and the Lions responded quickly, topping up the collections received throughout the past fortnight from Santa’s Sleigh to £500 to send off quickly via the Lions Club International Fund.

When we made that decision, at our February business meeting (about which more in the next few days into September), the horrors of the tragedy were still dominating the news headlines. We were glad that we had reserves already of some £5800 in the Charity Account, thanks to big fundraising events like the autumn’s Charity Auction.

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