The days are getting shorter and colder, meaning that winter is fast approaching and Santa Sleigh season will be here before we know it.
Every year thousands of Round Table members take to the streets in their local areas alongside Father Christmas to bring smiles to children’s faces, whilst raising money for charities and great causes in their area.
One such table is Inverurie Round Table, who this year took the decision to focus on refurbishing their original sleigh, which has been running for over 30 years!
The table took on several challenges to help raise funds, including the Edinburgh and Loch Ness marathons.
We spoke to Table chairman Kevin Bruce to find out more about their newly refurbished Santa sleigh and plans for this year’s rounds.
How long has your Santa sleigh been running?
“The Old sleigh has been on the go since the 70's. It was made from the ground up with parts from a Morris Minor and wood left over from the Ark, which at the time would have been cutting edge!
“Over the last few years age has become the issue and we have had problems with the sleigh wanting to go its own separate ways literally! - detaching itself from the tow car on a few occasions. We have also had electrical issues with flashing lights that were never designed to flash and amplifiers going up in smoke and almost taking the sleigh with it.
“It’s been around longer than all our current and retired members and is estimated to be about 30-40 years old. We talk to the older members of the community yearly who remember their kids enjoying the sleigh.”
What kind of impact has it had on the community in the past?
“Apart from nearly demolishing a wall it's been all good and has created fond memories in the communities it serves. We use it as both a static and moving display and people tell us about the sleigh and what it means to them and their families.”
How did you fundraise this year to support the rebuild?
“After spending more and more time having to fix the old sleigh we made it our goal this year to concentrate on sorting it out properly. We had been busy helping with the Flood Relief in the area from the previous year and had a very good year of taking in and giving out money.”
“We cleared out all our accounts and looked at ways of fundraising for the sleigh. A discussion was held about signing up for a Marathon. Having a number of Tablers within the Inverurie group that compete in the Cateran Trail Ultra 54 every year, we thought why not run as a group. It wasn't a long discussion and more a sign up there and then!! The Edinburgh and Lochness marathons respectively were run by 6 of our members and the money was raised for this by sponsorship. We also hosted race and quiz nights.
“We have been very fortunate to have been introduced to a local transport company that have helped us with tow vehicles during the Christmas collections - Whilst talking with them and our plans for the new sleigh, we were given an offer we couldn't refuse and they bought the sleigh for us!
“This still left the additional costs of buying a new trailer for the sleigh and the electric's such as the lights and sound. For this donation we are very thankful and grateful for the continued support from this company.”
How did you find a company to help you rebuild the sleigh? What were your priorities to make it the best it can be?
“The old sleigh was made of plywood and had aged very well, but the wood was starting to come apart and required major surgery. We looked at the costs and time involved and started looking around at all options.
“We found some photos online from a company called Craft-Wales and contacted them. Our requirements were discussed and Craft-Wales were more than happy to make our new sleigh complete with snowman family, reindeer and our RT logo.
“We wanted the sleigh to be bright and colourful and to be of decent quality so it too could last the test of time like the old one.”
How much are you looking to raise this year?
“Although the sleigh has taken a large chunk out of this year’s fundraising, it will cover us for many years to come as Christmas collections provides one of our biggest yearly incomes. We are targeting £20-30K this year which will go towards supporting individuals, groups and Charities.”
What is the best thing about doing the Santa Sleigh?
“The Santa Sleigh is something that people look forward to seeing, it helps put people and families in the festive spirit. The look on children’s faces is priceless when they see Santa outside their houses.”
What is the best thing about Table?
“Being on the Table and being the ones bringing this brilliant tradition to people and especially the children, gives you an enormous sense of pride and motivates you on into the following year.
“It's always a great laugh with the Table guys but in more recent years we have been able to help the community even more, such as football teams, scouts and so many others.
“The best thing about the Table is working out how best to spend the money raised and who we can help.”