Wimbledon Santa Raises Vital Funds

Late Christmas present for local charity

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Volunteer Centre Merton


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Visits to Santa's grotto at Wimbledon's Centre Court Shopping Centre were up by 30% on last year, helping to raise almost £6,000 for Volunteer Centre Merton.

Altogether, the grotto raised a total of £5,762, thanks to visits from 2,305 children - up almost a third on December 2010, when 1,781 youngsters took part in the annual festive event, and helped raise £4,452 for the centre's chosen charity.

This year's recipients of the money is Volunteer Centre Merton, a charity which works with a wide range of organisations in the public, voluntary and community sectors.

The team promotes volunteering in the community, matches volunteers to suitable vacancies, and helps out in a variety of different ways, including managing the home visits library service and a supported volunteering programme for volunteers with mental health issues and other disabilities.

Samantha Brown, marketing manager for Centre Court, said she was delighted at the amount that had been raised, and was not surprised when the final tally of visitors was calculated.

"Last year was busy, but I was confident this year had been even busier and was not surprised to see the number of visitors rise," she said. "But the fact that Santa saw 30 per cent more youngsters this December is quite an achievement," she said.

"We are still putting together trading figures for the Christmas period, but this is an early indication that our shopper numbers were up compared to the festive season last year, which is fantastic news for our retailers.

"All the money raised from the grotto will be donated to our chosen charity, Volunteer Centre Merton, and I am thrilled we've been able to raise such a significant amount, and contribute to the wonderful work the charity does.

"I'd like to say a big thank you to all of the parents and children who visited our grotto this year and helped support such a good cause.”

Sarah Hannigan, recruitment and placement manager from Volunteer Centre Merton, said she'd like to echo the thanks to Centre Court’s customers, and to the shopping centre itself.

"It is incredibly generous of the centre to donate the entire takings from the grotto to charity each year, and we are thrilled to be receiving almost £6,000.

"This is a substantial amount of money and a great boost for us as we start a new year. The donation will help support so many projects we are currently running, as well as helping get new ones off the ground."

The grotto opened on November 26, and was open each day until Christmas Eve.

January 13, 2012