Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Newry’s Black Santa makes a welcome return to Christmas sit-out

Newry’s Black Santa, John Dalzell has dismissed thoughts of retirement and will instead continue his festive fundraising work for Southern Area Hospice Services. 

Last year John, who is almost 76 years old, decided that, given his advancing years, 2016 would be his last year taking part in his annual Christmas sit-out and he handed over the reins to his “Sit-Out Team” to continue with their fundraising on his behalf.

Having been part of Christmas in Newry for 26 years, it was almost impossible to think he would no longer be seen in his red suit on Hill Street, where he took pride of place for an entire week, often in the coldest, wettest weather, collecting money for the local hospice.

Now the dedicated pensioner has had a change of heart and will return to his traditional position in Marcus Square to carry on his fantastic festive fundraising drive.  Speaking to The Examiner about his decision to return to the sit-out, John said,

“I know I’m not as young as I used to be, but who is!  So I have decided that while I am fit enough to continue with my work for the hospice that’s exactly what I’m going to do! 

“Last year we raised over £73,000.  I know the hospice really needs that money to look after the patients and that’s all I need to motivate me  to keep  going until I really  can’t , and thankfully that’s not this year .  We have been raising money together for the hospice for so long and I really want to thank you all  – £1.45million,  that’s some money to have donated and I am so proud of us and I hope you are all too, thank you, thank you all for making my sit-out the success it is today.”

Welcoming John’s return, Regional Marketing Officer for the Hospice, James McCaffrey, who also works with John and his team said it was “no surprise” that the committed fundraiser had decided to continue with his wonderful work.

“John and his dedicated Sit-Out team are an incredible example of the spirit of giving at Christmas,” he said.

“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.

“On behalf of all of the patients and their families and friends who have been touched by our services in the past 26 years of Hospice Care, I would like to sincerely thank John and his team, and everyone who continues to support them.”

John’s familiar Sit-Out trailer will be stationed in Marcus Square on Hill Street once again from 16th – 24th December from 8am until 6pm each day. Collections will take place at Fiveways Shopping Complex, The Quays Shopping Centre and Damolly Retail Park.  Donations can also be sent to Southern Area Hospice Services, St.John’s House, Courtney Hill, Newry, BT34 2EB.