Staff from a Teesside bus depot in Stockton have beaten last year’s total and raised an amazing £2,150 for a local charity by spreading some festive fun as they drove their buses during the run up to Christmas.

The drivers at local bus operator Stagecoach North East dressed as Santa Claus while on duties, bringing a smile to the faces of young and old passengers alike andencouraging them to dig deep for their chosen charity, Daisy Chain.

Daisy Chain is a unique charity which supports families affected by autism, providing a range of services, including advice, information and activity groups for the whole family from its farm in Norton. The charity also supports adults, with an adults’ club and an employability scheme.

To bring seasonal cheer, staff handed out festive novelties during service and customers once again showed their amazing generosity. In addition, a Christmas Stagecoach charity bus visited Stockton High Street to further boost support, with the merrily dressed bus featuring specially designed festive vinyl coverings, and staffdressed as Santa Claus and his little helper ‘elves’ giving away festive freebies from ‘Santa’s Grotto’.

The team also participated in Daisy Chain’s ‘Wear it Festive’ campaign, donning seasonal sweaters to raise even more money, with a great selection of winter wonderland woollies on show.

Taking part in the seasonal campaign was bus driver Neil English from Billingham in Stockton.

Neil, 52, who has been a driver for 11 years, said: “It is an amazing amount of money that we collected over December and we would like to thank our passengers for giving as generously as they did on their travels and hope we made their journey a little more fun and festive. I really want to say a big thank you to everyone who has supported us as it is their kindness which makes the difference.”

Angela Dee, community fundraiser at Daisy Chain said: “What a wonderful and festive contribution Stagecoach has made to raise funds to support families in the local area affected by autism. The value of fundraising in the community is immense and we are extremely grateful when people give their time and energy to help us and put a smile on so many faces both at Daisy Chain and in the community.”

Nathan Stanislawski, Operations Manager at the Teesside depot, said: “We are always happy to support our drivers in their fundraising efforts and would like to commend them again on their dedication to making a difference during the festive period. I’d also like to thank all our passengers and the rest of the depot for giving so generously. Seeing Santa Claus driving the buses puts a smile on everyone’s face and is great fun for all involved.”

Across the six Stagecoach depots, staff raised an impressive £30,000 for various charities over the festive period, which included a donation for each depot from Stagecoach North East.