How the Fylde coast's Christmas lorry 'Harry' helped raise £13,000 for Trinity and Brian House
A man who warmed hearts and drew smiles in the run-up to Christmas raised £13,000 for two Fylde coast hospices.
Doug Smith took his Coca Cola-style Christmas truck 'Harry' on the road for the first time in 2019, before giving it an overhaul and heading out again during the second lockdown last year to raise some socially distanced cheer.
But he also raised a hefty sum for charity, with a cheque for £13,187.01 handed over to Trinity Hospice and the neighbouring Brian House Children's Hospice in Low Moor Road, Bispham.
Doug, 61, whose quirky projects have also seen him erect a replica Blackpool Tower in his back garden alongside his own award-winning shed-based pub, said: "Harry went out for the first time on December 6 and we ended at 9.30pm on Christmas Eve.
"I was out with Harry every day except for two days during this period in all kinds of weather.
"In a year like no other, the response was fantastic."
Doug, a retired sales manager from Carr Lane, Hambleton, parked the truck outside supermarkets and shops and, with some help, "rattled collection buckets for hours at a time in all weathers".
He added: "We delivered Santa to schools so he could deliver presents to children. We led a long lorry convoy to do a drive-by for a very special 10-year-old boy, who is unfortunately very ill, for his birthday.
"We supported Brian House when it did a Christmas drive-by for all the children it supports, and we joined five separate drive-bys through built-up housing areas across the Fylde with the support of Santa in his sleigh alongside our wonderful band of 'Elves Behavin' Badly'.
"These events were all very well supported by very generous individuals and families who were also very appreciative of the fact that, in a very difficult lead up to Christmas, their families, especially young children, got a taste of the Christmas spirit during a time when it was very hard to find.
"The smile seen on children's faces when they saw Harry passing by all lit up and playing Christmas music was as important and pleasurable as the money that was raised for the hospices."
Doug wished to thank VCL Light Bars, PMS International, Premier Taxis (Blackpool), and the Seven Stars pub in Stalmine for their backing.
Last year, Trinity Hospice said it was facing a funding shortfall of £1 million as the pandemic saw a number of lucrative fundraising events cancelled, with an emergency appeal launched to help plug the gap.
Community fundraising manager Michelle Lonican said: “What Doug has achieved with Harry and his band of helpers is just incredible.
"He has always been someone with big ideas, and you know that with Doug, they are going to happen.
"This was no exception.
“The level of giving we have seen this year has been remarkable – the generosity of people who are going through their own troubles has been amazing, and we are so grateful to everyone who has supported us through Doug’s efforts.
“Doug is a quiet hero who spent so many hours in the cold and wet collecting for Harry.
"He even drove around Hambleton on Christmas Eve to give children a magical Christmas experience.
“Every penny Doug has raised will be used to help us to reach the most fragile children on Fylde coast – those who are living with life-threatening and life-limiting conditions who need our support, now more than ever.”
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