Rudolph and the Round Table’s annual ‘Santa Sleigh’ street collection are as much a part of Christmas in Ipswich as turkey and tinsel. Rob Hart who is chairman of Ipswich Round Table talks about his Suffolk Christmas of local businesses who supply us with many items for free and who are too many to mention. All Ipswich ‘tablers’ are really involved with Rudolph as we expect everyone to do at least six routes around the town throughout December. What’s your involvement in the collection and which charity are you raising money for this year? As I am chairman of Ipswich Round Table this year I lead the campaign and am the central point of contact for everything to do with Rudolph 2016. This year we are raising money for the Town102 kids trust.
What was it like growing up in Suffolk? I have lived in Suffolk the majority of my life – 41 years. I grew up in Stowmarket before buying my first house in Hadleigh and then moving to Ipswich. I have fantastic memories of growing up in the county, there is so much to do from one day being by the seaside to a short distance away fields and open space. We don’t realise how lucky we are to have so much in Suffolk from Thetford Forest to Aldeburgh to the great heritage of Lavenham. How did you get involved in the Round Table? I joined Round Table due to Rudolph. I remembered it from when I was younger and as I moved back to Ipswich I wanted to find out who operated it with a view to helping out. Once you see what the Round Table does you can’t help but enjoy being involved and helping out. Tell us more about Rudolph’s Christmas campaign Rudolph has been running for 46 years and last year we raised over £20k for our chosen charity, Age UK Suffolk. Rudolph and Father Christmas has become a vital part of Christmas in Ipswich with families going out of their way to see us and give a donation. Over the past few years it has grown with the help of social media such as Facebook and Twitter. We start planning Rudolph in May by giving him a check over to identify which repairs need carrying out such as painting or a new sound system and getting these completed. The level of work increases from October onwards when we start scheduling the routes, getting the corporate helpers signed up, arranging the vehicle to tow Rudolph and sorting out insurance and charity collection licenses. We are fortunate that as we have been doing this for so long much of the preplanning is in place so we have contacts for all the items we need. We would not be able to do this without the generosity
How far does Rudolph travel in Ipswich every Christmas season and how many evenings do you spend touring the town? This year we are out 16 evenings with the first being December 5 and the last being December 23. During the campaign Rudolph covers over 80 miles around the streets of Ipswich. A full list of the routes will be available on our website. Check out our Facebook page or Twitter feed for more precise details. How do people react when you call? The majority of people love seeing Rudolph with comments such as, “it’s not Christmas until we have seen Rudolph”. For us it is fantastic to see the kids’ faces and the magic in their eyes when Father Christmas calls out their names. We also get a lot of older people who get just as excited as the younger members. Do you have a favourite Christmas song? My favourite is Fairytale of New York by The Pogues, although after a while they all become too much. The same with Father Christmas on the microphone they can become repetitive! After all the planning how do you spend Christmas Day? With my family. I am lucky that my parents still live in Stowmarket and my sister also lives in Ipswich so it is easy for us all to get together with our children. As I get older I appreciate the time I get with my children and family. After a hectic December with Rudolph it is also a great chance to relax and be thankful for everything good in life. What is it about Christmas in Suffolk that makes it special? To me Rudolph makes it special. We at Ipswich Round Table have the highest grossing Santa Sleigh in the UK so it is fantastic to raise so much for local Ipswich charities and that is thanks to the generosity of Ipswich residents.
To see this year’s routes visit www.ipswichroundtable.co.uk/rudolph-2016
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