Charitable bus drivers are dressing up as Santa this Christmas as they look to raise as much as possible for a worthy cause.
Keith Willans and Keith Baggley have embarked on a Stagecoach North East’s annual Christmas fundraising campaign which has seen them swap their uniforms for a Santa costume as they drive their bus, to raise funds for the Royal British Legion.
The Stagecoach drivers will be spreading Christmas cheer to passengers on various bus routes each day.
The fundraising duo will be handing out sweets to youngsters and asking for donations to the cause as they take passengers to their destinations across the town for the next two weeks.
And the charity initiative, which kicked off this week, has already gone down a storm with passengers and drivers alike who are thrilled to see Santa driving buses across the town.
Mr Baggley, 58, from Fens, has been with Stagecoach for the last five years and has taken part in the event every year.
He said: “We pick a different charity each year and this year we are doing it for the Royal British Legion.
“It is a charity close to my heart as I am ex-forces and have a lot of friends who are disabled through military service. “We started dressing up this week and are asking passengers to put a donation in the boxes we will be putting on the bus. “People really like it and it puts a smile on people’s faces.”
Last year the fundraiser raised £700 for charity.
Mr Willans, 56, from Stockton has been a Stagecoach bus driver for 11 years and has re-joined the company in the last five months after a 10 year break.
He said: “The kids love seeing Santa and getting sweet from him and we have lots of drivers we pass smiling, waving and tooting their horn.”
Jason Astley, operations manager at Stagecoach North East’s Hartlepool depot, said: “This has become a popular feature on our buses over the years and the drivers and staff really enjoy spreading some seasonal cheer for our customers.
“Every year the response from the public is really positive, which is fantastic.
“Everyone loves Santa and I think it has become a part of the build up to Christmas in the community.
“It’s just good fun and certainly gives a great atmosphere on the buses.
“I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who supports us.”