The Wokingham Paper

Santa Claus is coming to town (…and he’s got a new sleigh!)

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Members of the Woodley and Earley Lions collect the sleigh from Andrew Wilkinson (second left)

FATHER Christmas is coming to town, and this year he has a top-of-the-range sleigh to travel in style.

The Woodley and Earley Lions, who arrange for Santa Claus and his elves to visit local streets in the run up to Christmas, took the reigns of the refurbished sleigh from Head of Technology at Maiden Erlegh School, Andrew Wilkinson, earlier today (Thursday).

As reported in The Wokingham Paper on October 13, Mr Wilkinson had spent three months refurbishing the sleigh in his free time, after first building it in 2004 with the help of colleagues at the school.

This afternoon he unveiled the finished sleigh outside the Silverdale Road school for members of the Lions to receive, much to the amazement of his students.

Year 10 pupil Riya Vashistha, who designed the Ferrari-inspired badges for the sleigh, said: “The sleigh took a long time to work on by a lot of people, but it looks really great.”

Lion Malcolm Mortimer, who received the sleigh on behalf of the club’s President Tim Dixon, said he was ‘chuffed’ with the final result.

He said: “This sleigh will be seen by thousands of people in the run-up to Christmas, and Andrew and his team have done a superb job.

“The Christmas sleigh enables us to go out onto the streets of Woodley and Earley, spreading some Christmas magic, and collecting money for some well-deserving charities. It is great to see the children so excited by it today, and we really are so very grateful to Andrew and his team.”

Mr Wilkinson said: “It’s been a blast!”

A special tribute crafted by Mr Wilkinson in memory of his former colleague David Lunn, who worked with him on the original sleigh and sadly passed away last week, will adorn the sleigh.

The sleigh will begin visiting streets around Woodley and Earley at the end of November.

The reindeer is from the original sleigh, made in 2004The sleigh attracted quite a crowd when it was unveiled at Maiden Erlegh School this afternoonPupils gathered to have their photos taken with the sleighHead of Technology Andrew Wilkinson with Riya Vashistha, who designed the badgesMembers of Woodley and Earley Lions were said to be 'chuffed' with the refurbished sleighThe sleigh's builder Andrew Wilkinson takes the reignsMembers of the Woodley and Earley Lions collect the sleigh from Andrew Wilkinson (second left)Mr Wilkinson worked on the sleigh on his driveway as it was too big for the school's workshop

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