Students give Rotary Santa Sleigh a new lease of life

For the past 30 years the Rotary Club Santa sleigh has made infamous appearances during the run up to Christmas, offering Shropshire a magical and nostalgic seasonal tradition.

Travelling the streets of Shawbury and Shropshire, ‘Santa’ and his elves visit children and hand out Christmas gifts.

This year, for the first time in over a decade, the sleigh has undergone a makeover. Students from the construction department at Shrewsbury College have been busy over the last three months, giving it a new lease of life in time for the town centre Christmas light switch on, later this month.

The Rotary Club has worked closely with Shrewsbury College on previous community-based projects and this year the club approached Bruce Rolls, curriculum leader for construction, to see if the students would like to get involved.

“Many Students in the Construction area wanted to be involved in community projects this year.” Explained Mr Rolls. “This 'Sleigh' project was perfect for our Painting and decorating students. Supported by staff these First & second year students have used their enrichment time to ; Work with a business partner, reported to college governors, worked to tight deadlines as well as working to a professional standard And delivered on time. For us customer satisfaction is a must"

“It is no longer enough to be good at a job, we want to develop character and wider skills.” He continued. “Our goal is to develop our students as people who whatever they decide to do in their lives. This small project is a real example of that. It was also fun and was enjoyed by everyone who took part. Construction is not just for guys, it's for everyone who like to get a job done. We consider ourselves part of Shrewsbury live and we wanted to make a contribution to that community.”

More than a dozen painting and decorating students aged 16 to 19 worked on the project during their enrichment sessions. The sleigh was completely stripped and repainted, including the adjoining wooden Rudolf. The chassis was straightened and strengthened by staff in the engineering department, and an additional roof was added.

One of the Painting & Decorating students, Liam Thomas, 17, of Monkmoor, Shrewsbury, said he was encouraged and motivated by learning support assistant Sam Lindsay who provided pastoral support. He said: “I’ve really enjoyed working on the sleigh, I love painting and working on a real life project has been great.”

Mervyn Davies, President of Shawbury and Mid Shropshire Rotary, said: “The re-appearance of the sleigh is looked forward to by all concerned and it is great to have a safe and appealing sleigh for young and not so young people to enjoy.

“I am sure that Santa will appreciate a safer and more comfortable sleigh and he will ensure the students and staff will be on his list for visits this Christmas.

“We are most grateful to all at the College for their commitment to this excellent refurbishment,” he added.

The refurbished sleigh will make its first appearance in Shrewsbury Square on Wednesday November, 19 at the switch on of the town’s lights.

A busy programme of festive activities follow in the run-up to Christmas.

These include visits to supermarkets and sleigh runs in Shawbury (December 8), Hadnall (December 10), High Ercall (December 11) and Bomere Heath (December 15).

In addition, Santa and Elves will be collecting at the Greenhous Meadow on November 29 and Cineworld – a first for the sleigh – on December 13.

For more information about The Shawbury and Shropshire Rotary club, visit http://www.rotary-ribi.org/clubs/contact.php?ClubID=1605

For more information about Construction courses at Shrewsbury College please call 01743 342411

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