Monday, 20 September 2021

Santa has arrived at Toad Hall

THE Mayor of Henley has officially opened Santa?s grotto at Toad Hall garden centre

THE Mayor of Henley has officially opened Santa?s grotto at Toad Hall garden centre.

Councillor Lorraine Hillier cut the ribbon before Father Christmas welcomed his first visitors, Max Phillips, two, and his eight-year-old sister Ava, from Remenham Hill.

The children?s mother Sam said: ?This is the first year that Max has been aware of Father Christmas so I think he?s a bit overwhelmed but he?s very excited.

?He?s pretending to be the Incredible Hulk today so it could get confusing if Santa asks his name!?

The grotto was launched about nine years ago by Henley Lions Club. It was originally based at the Wyevale garden centre, near Shiplake, but when that shut in 2010 it moved to Toad Hall, off Marlow Road.

Lynn Burgess, an assistant at the centre, designs and builds the grotto every year with help of her colleagues and it is open every Saturday and Sunday in the run-up to Christmas.

Children pay £6 to enter and are given a present. The Lions receive £3 from every visit and donate the proceeds to children and young people?s charities in the area.

This year?s proceeds will be shared between the Chiltern Centre for disabled children, off Greys Road, Henley, and the Footsteps Foundation in Dorchester.

Lion John Moore, who came up with the idea, said: ?I?ve been organising it for a long time and Toad Hall always puts an incredible effort into the design. It just keeps getting better and better. We?re very lucky.?

Martin Sheldrake, general manager of the garden centre, said: ?It?s nice to be able to help children?s charities at Christmas and we?re always really pleased with the support we get from the community.

?Last year we raised just over £2,000 and I?m hoping we can beat that. It?s fantastic to see the excitement on the children?s faces ? that?s the main reason we do it.?

Cllr Hillier said: ?The grotto looks absolutely beautiful. If I?m in awe of it children must really think it?s magical.?

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