Newry’s ‘Black Santa’ epitomizes the spirit of giving at Christmas

December 5, 2016

Later this month John Dalzell will celebrate his birthday in the same way he has for each of the last 25 years, on the streets of Newry.  As he approaches his 75th birthday, the veteran charity campaigner marks a significant milestone in his fundraising efforts for hospice care in the locality by commencing his 25th successive Christmas Sit Out in aid of Southern Area Hospice.

John will be joined by his reliable team of volunteers who will brave the cold and inclement weather to raise much needed funds, helping the Hospice maintain its nurturing services of care and support for terminally ill patients and their families.

John Dalzell’s 25th annual Sit Out was officially launched at a coffee morning held in Bellini’s, Newry on Thursday.  The event was attended by the Chair of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, Gillian Fitzpatrick, Hospice staff, volunteers and local politicians.

John’s now-familiar trailer will be stationed at his customary location in Marcus Square on Hill Street from 17th to 24th December, from 8am until 6pm each day.

Regional Marketing Officer for the Hospice, James McCaffrey, says John and his team are an incredible example of the spirit of giving at Christmas.

“The amount of time and effort they put into this collection for the Hospice each year is truly amazing and it is an honour to work alongside them,” he said.

“To date John has raised a staggering £1,383,000 for our cause.  On behalf of all the patients and their families and friends who have been touched by our services in the past 25 years of Hospice Care I would like to sincerely thank John and his team and everyone who continues to support them.”

As well as John’s Sit-Out on Hill Street, collections will take place around the town at Fiveways Shopping Complex, The Quays Shopping Centre and B&Q, where all donations will be most welcome.

John also enjoys a bit of craic and company to pass the time, so don’t be a stranger if you’re passing by him!

Sinn Fein’s Conor Murphy says the annual Sit Out campaign “has become part and parcel” of Christmas celebrations in the locality.

“John is a man that we all have a great respect for. His Christmas sit out now going into its 25th year has become part and parcel of our Christmas celebrations. The monies collected by him and his team ensure the continued delivery by the Southern Area Hospice of its services of care and support for patients and their loved ones,” the MLA said.  “I am proud to call him a friend and I wish John, his family and all those involved with this year’s event, well.”

Echoing his colleague’s sentiments Mickey Brady MP added: “John is our own “Black Santa”. He and his dedicated Sit-Out team are an incredible example of the spirit of giving.”

Pointing out that almost £1.4m has been raised for this worthy charity by John’s efforts over the years, Mr Brady, on behalf of all of the patients and their families and friends who have been touched by Southern Area Hospice Services in the past 25 years, offered his sincere thanks to John and his team.

If you would like to make a donation to this appeal in aid of Southern Area Hospice Services please visit John’s Sit-Out on Hill Street, make a donation to one of his collectors around the town or send donations to Southern Area Hospice services, St John’s House, Courtney Hill, Newry, BT34 2EB.