The Santa on the bus goes ho ho ho
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!”