Christmas comes early to Preston!

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It might only be October but the countdown to the festive season is on and Father Christmas has made an impromptu visit to Preston to rally round the troops.

There’s 55 days to go until Christmas Day and in a bid to get into the festive spirit local folk are being encouraged to give their time to help run Santa’s Grotto.

Santas helpers: Emma Russ from Galloway's Society for the Blind, Father Christmas and St George's Shopping Centre general manager Andrew Stringer who are launching an appeal for Santa's helpers to help in the Galloway's Society for the Blind Christmas Grotto at the centre.

Santas helpers: Emma Russ from Galloway's Society for the Blind, Father Christmas and St George's Shopping Centre general manager Andrew Stringer who are launching an appeal for Santa's helpers to help in the Galloway's Society for the Blind Christmas Grotto at the centre.

The grotto in St George’s Shopping Centre will open on Saturday November 29, but volunteers are needed to make sure the Christmas season is all wrapped up. It is being operated by Preston-based Galloway’s Society for the Blind and people can enter by making a donation to the cause. All will be used to help the charity support more blind and partially sighted people live an independent life.

Emma Russ, senior fundraiser at Galloway’s, said: “Our Christmas fundraising in St George’s raised more than £10,000 last year but it takes a lot of volunteers to help make it possible.

“It’s fantastic to help make Christmas so magical for local children but we simply can’t do it without volunteers. 
“There are lots of different ways in which people can help whether that is collecting, gift wrapping or helping the big guy himself in the grotto.”

The Grotto, which is open most days throughout December, is completely free for children to visit, although a donation to Galloway’s is suggested. There’s also the option to purchase a photograph as a souvenir keepsake. Andrew Stringer, General Manager at St George’s, added: “The centre has lots going on over Christmas and its fantastic that we can offer local families such a magical experience which also benefits local people living with sight loss. “Christmas really is all wrapped up at St George’s this year.”Father Christmas added: “The days in the grotto are wonderful and seeing so many families happy after visiting is what it’s all about but I simply can’t do it without help so please do get in touch with Galloway’s if you’re interested – even if you can only help 2 hours a week – it will make a huge difference. Ho Ho Ho.”

To find out more about being Santa’s helper or any other volunteering opportunities at St George’s over Christmas then please contact Emma Russ on 01772 744148 or email emma.russ@galloways.org.uk