Santa’s hoping to visit YOU

Santa Claus Jim Croll Picture By FRANK REID
Santa Claus Jim Croll Picture By FRANK REID

SANTA called into the Mail this week – and he’d love to pay you a visit before his busiest night of the year on Christmas Eve.

Charity champion Jim Croll has raised thousands of pounds over the last decade by visiting dozens of community groups and organisations to help spread some festive cheer.

This year, Jim’s dedicated charity is Autism Support Group Hartlepool and he hopes to help the organisation rake in as much as possible to help with running costs.

But he is also making himself available for other groups and would love to have a busy diary in the run-up to Christmas.

Jim, 66, said: “I wanted to raise money for a local cause and autistic kids are amazing.

“They all have so much to give, and we don’t always see how hard it is for them.

“I’ve had a bad heart and that makes it hard sometimes. I love doing it though, and hope I’ll still be doing it in 30 years!”

Jim lives with his wife, Mandy, and sons Michael, 17 and 18-year-old David in the Oxford Road area of Hartlepool. He jokingly calls it his “grotto”.

The retired British Steel worker originally started raising money due to problems Michael had with his heart, and kept on playing Santa as he loves making kids happy.

He added: “It is all about the kids for me.

“Your average five-year old is brilliant and I hope it makes Christmas special for them. I try to make as many appearances as I can.”

Peter Gowland, project officer at Hartlepool Volunteer Development Agency, which works with the Autism Support Group Hartlepool, said: “Jim’s help is really excellent at a time when charities are struggling to raise money.”

Parents who would like a letter for their child should write to Santa, c/o 185 Oxford Road, Hartlepool, TS25 5QA, and include name, age, address, and any other special details like pet names.

A cheque or postal order for £2, plus first class stamp, should be enclosed.

All proceeds will be donated to the autism group.

For more details or to arrange a booking with Jim, contact him on (01429) 869231.