The Santa on the bus goes ho ho ho

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - NEWS - By STEPHEN BRIGSS stephen.briggs@pe­ter­bor­oughto­day.co.uk

SANTA swapped his sleigh for a bus to help de­liver Christ­mas cheer across the city.

Bus pas­sen­gers tak­ing the 701 Judds ser­vice be­tween Peter­bor­ough and Whit­tle­sey have been shocked to see Fa­ther Christ­mas be­hind the wheel of the sin­gle decker, with no sign of Dancer, Prancer or Bl­itzen.

And the in­side of the bus has even been dec­o­rated with a tree, tin­sel and lights to carry the Christ­mas spirit through the fens.

The bus driver be­hind the beard is fa­ther-of-two Ja­son Stim­son (36), who has car­ried out his own fes­tive tra­di­tion for the last four years to raise money for the East Anglian Air Am­bu­lance.

Mr Stim­son, of Pey­ton Av­enue, March, has raised more than £1,500 for the char­ity since 2007, as well as bright­en­ing the jour­neys of com­muters and Christ­mas shop­pers.

He said: “This is the fifth Christ­mas I have worked with Judds, so it is the fifth time I have dressed up.

“It started when I joined the firm and asked if I could dec­o­rate the bus, as we don’t swap be­tween driv­ers.

“The boss said it was fine and sug­gested I dressed up. I think it was a joke, but I thought, why not?.

“In the first year I was Santa, the sec­ond a pas­sen­ger dared me to dress as a fairy – which was not a pretty sight – the third year I dressed as a Christ­mas pud­ding and the last two years I have dressed as Santa.

“I nor­mally start a cou­ple of weeks be­fore Christ­mas and peo­ple are al­ways ask­ing if I will be dress­ing up at Christ­mas. “And peo­ple who have not seen me be­fore are al­ways shocked when they see me – but are al­ways gen­er­ous and do­nate some change.

“I hang a stock­ing in the bus for peo­ple to do­nate in, and I nor­mally get about £300 ev­ery year.

“The re­ac­tion I get from peo­ple, es­pe­cially the chil­dren, makes it all worth­while for me.

“I chose the air am­bu­lance be­cause it is a char­ity that ev­ery­one might need at some point in their lives, and they don’t get any fund­ing.”

Stephanie Judd, from Judds Travel, said: “We are de­lighted Ja­son has dressed up as Fa­ther Christ­mas again and we hope it raises lots of money for char­ity.” Chris Don­ald­son, area fund-rais­ing man­ager for the East Anglian Air Am­bu­lance, has wel­comed the fes­tive ef­forts.

He said: “Ja­son has re­ally en­tered in to the spirit of Christ­mas and the fun na­ture of fund-rais­ing and we can’t thank him enough for spread­ing the name of the char­ity in his own unique way.

“As a life-sav­ing char­ity, ev­ery penny raised for us re­ally does make a dif­fer­ence and I’d like to thank Ja­son, and all those who have do­nated, for the sup­port they have given us.

“With­out their help, we sim­ply wouldn’t be able to treat the many peo­ple we do, in emer­gency sit­u­a­tions, all year round.

“I must say though, while Fa­ther Christ­mas makes for a tremen­dous out­fit, we’re look­ing for­ward to see­ing the fairy cos­tume back some time soon!”

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