Summer isn’t over yet but plans are already being put in place for Santa Claus to come to Hartlepool.
Now in to his 21st year, big-hearted Jim Croll is getting ready to put on his Santa suit with an aim of raising hundreds of pounds for St Aidan’s Church soup kitchen.
The 73-year-old estimates that he has raised between £8,000 and £10,000 since he started the festive fundraiser in 1999.
Jim, who lives in Oxford Road, decided to start fundraising for Freeman Hospital’s children’s heart unit but in recent years has chosen a new charity to support each year.
His youngest son, Michael, was born with heart defects and had to have several operations including open heart surgery.
Jim said: “He was put forward by Freeman Hospital ward 23 to go to Lapland to see Santa.
“I went with him and it was a magical experience. It was what Christmas is about.”
For the past two decades, Jim has enjoyed seeing children’s faces light up as Santa walks in the room.
It was when Jim retired, aged 52, that he began the festive fundraiser and since then he has visited birthday parties, schools and groups lighting up the faces of thousands of children in the area for more than two decades.
“I was looking at how I could raise money for ward 23 to thank them for their efforts on behalf of my son,” added Jim.
“Since then I’ve raised funds for different charities. I usually focus on children’s charities but last year I raised funds for a choir that helps supports other causes.”
This year he hopes to help as many individuals as possible as he raises the cash.
Jim, who worked at British Steel for 17 years and ICI for 22 years before being retired on health grounds, said: “This year I’ve decided to raise funds for St Aidan’s food bank.
“It’s a way I can spread the funds out in the area. By supporting St Aidan’s it can help hundreds of individuals who will benefit from people’s donations.”
So far eight bookings have been made which will start in November.
And it’s your chance to start making bookings for a minimum of £25 to come to your event.
He added: “I say £25 minimum to help raise the money but if there is a special cause and they can’t afford to pay please still get in touch and I’ll see what I can do.”
Jim can be contacted on 01429 869231.