A social media campaign has been launched to Keep Barnstaple Round Table Sleigh after a Christmas Grinch hit out at the big-hearted community fundraising activity.
Despite raising more than £21,000 in the past three years and bringing smiles to hundreds of children and their families across the town, one individual has set up a Facebook page demanding this popular Christmas tradition is halted.
The public have already condemned the online attack on the sleigh collections and have responded by setting up a rival page to ‘keep’ the sleigh collections, run by members of Barnstaple Round Table, which is made up entirely of volunteers giving up their evenings to undertake the collections
Parent Tori Bains commented: “The kids love it and it raises lots of money for charities groups and raises community spirits!” while Stephanie Carter added: “I think Santa coming round makes people smile and is a great idea. Love this every year and its for charity.”
The perpetrator of the page claims ‘the Barnstaple Roundtable's Santa Sleigh is an ill thought out idea and it does not belong in residential areas. It's an intrusion and a disturbance’.
The page administrator has refused requests to take the page down, which is also using images of Barnstaple Round Table members and their sleigh.
Mike Jewell, who is coordinating 13 nights of sleigh collections for Barnstaple Round Table said: “We’re incredibly grateful for the support of the public and the work we do with the sleigh.
“It is part of the magic of Christmas as we know the joy this brings to hundreds of families across the area, while the funds we raised directly support the groups who join us on our collections.
“It is unfortunate that someone has taken to social media to attack what we do. We hope that person will remove the page as we have requested. It certainly won’t deter us from running the sleigh this year or for years to come.”
Ironically, the attack was launched on the same evening that Round Table president Marcus Jones was presenting to a cross party group of MPs on the work the volunteers of Round Table do each year, including the annual sleigh collections.
This year more than 100 Round Table clubs across the country are currently in the midst of their annual sleigh runs, which raise tens of thousands each year for local community groups.