THE ROTARIANS who rescued Christmas have been handing out the proceeds of their hard work.
Members of the Sunrise Rotary Club in Torquay have not allowed coronavirus restrictions to halt their good work, and say they have proved that sometimes a crisis can bring out the best in people.
They pulled out all the stops, despite a host of setbacks, to make sure Torquay had its traditional Christmas Santa’s Grotto in 2020.
The event was in danger as the country went into its second lockdown in November, but after careful re-construction, sanitisation and online ticketing arrangements, restrictions were eased to allow the doors to open in good time for Christmas.
More than 2,500 people visited the grotto, enabling Rotary to raise more than £4,000 for local charities.
In addition, bucket collections at the attraction also raised £240 for the Children’s Hospice South West.
Sunrise president Daniel Boatwright (aka Santa) said: “It was touch and go whether it would go ahead, but we all stayed positive and were so glad we were able to keep the tradition alive, while following government guidelines, of course.
“We had to re-think everything from a more spacious layout and incorporating Perspex shields next to Santa, to pre-booked online ticketing, fewer elves and limiting visitor numbers.
“However, we felt so proud to be able to host this charity event. The response was amazing and we were completely sold out.”
A small rota of brave Santas and elves donned face masks, kept their distance and sanitised their hands to give up their time freely and make sure the event happened. Sunrise Rotary Club members called on fellow Rotarians from Tormohun Rotary Club and Torquay Ladies Circle to assist.
Rotarian and organiser of the grotto Steve Holdup said: “We worked hard to overcome the challenges that Covid-19 presented during the run-up to Christmas and we owe a huge thank you to all our helpers who made it possible to mark our 30th year at the Fleet Walk.
“We proved that together we could overcome the obstacles in a full professional and safe way and continue to bring Santa’s Grotto alive for families in Torbay at time when we all desperately needed some extra Christmas cheer.”
The Sunrise club continues to meet regularly online and has been able to continue to support the community with a number of donations.
Sunrisers Beryl Durtnall and Elfriede Osborn have been busy selling home-made face masks and, with the proceeds, have donated £500 to Rowcroft Hospice HomeCare and, more recently, a further £1,000 to Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust to build an outside rest area for Torbay paramedics.
A donation of £1,000 has been donated to Watcombe School for much-needed technology for children who are home studying.
Torbay Domestic Abuse Service received £150 Superdrug vouchers to support clients in need of toiletries while seeking refuge in safe houses, and there are plans to continue the support with further funding.
The club is currently supporting Physionet who collect surplus aids for the disabled to be shipped out to charities around the world. They are calling for people who have unwanted items such as wheelchairs, crutches and walking frames to donate them for those in need.
For more information about The Rotary Club of Torbay Sunrise, email the secretary at firstname.lastname@example.org
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