THIS year’s Saintfield Christmas Charity Santa Ride has been launched in grand style at Rowallane Garden, where the National Trust’s internationally renowned property, in all its autumn splendour, proved an excellent back-drop for the occasion.
Guests and sponsors were entertained during an excellent lunch with a range of melodies from the delightful singing voice of Claudia Glendenning, who is making a name for herself on the wider musical scene.
“We are now in the 12th year of our annual Christmas Charity ride and, without a doubt, this year’s event will be as memorable a one as ever for young and old,” stated organiser Joan Cunningham, who heads up an extremely dedicated and energetic team to make the event maintain its high reputation for being the only one of its kind in Ireland, even throughout the British Isles.
“Everyone participating will be doing so for very worthy causes and Angelo Kane’s magnificent horse-drawn carriage will lead the cavalcade from Saintfield Livestock Mart to the town, where the crowds, and we would expect them to be as large as ever, will be well entertained by a strong programme of fine country singers.
“Yes, we will have the fabulous Gerard Dornan (Country Harmony), the amazing Box Car Brian and, of course, the one and only Terence McKeag, the man who is never tongue twisted or lost for a ready response!” said Joan.
Important to note the ride will arrive on Saintfield Main Street at 1pm.
“We are all looking forward to the event – it is taking place on Saturday, December 1 – which every year brings hundreds of people to this lovely historic town,”adds Joan.
“Our invitation is the usual one. Come along and enjoy this spectacular event for you will not see one like it anywhere else in the pre-Christmas season. Where else would you see so many dedicated horsemen and horsewomen give their time and their equestrian talents for worthwhile charities?
“The arrival time is the same as in other years, but we would like all those taking part to come early to register their entries and then take part in a seasonal reception, around 11am, when mulled wine and mince pies will be the order of the day.”
The entry fee for the rides will be adults £20 and children £10 and this will cover the mulled wine reception and the lunch to follow the ride.
Entrance to the marquee is free and adults wishing to have lunch but not wishing to participate in the ride will have the opportunity of making a donation while their child/ children dine for free.
Joan adds: “Much work goes on behind the scenes to make our event the success it has been over all those years. So I would pay tribute to a great band of people who work tirelessly in this respect.
“Among them I would single out our faithful sponsors, North Down Marquees, who have been unstinting in their generosity each year; Brian and Geoffrey Murphy, who graciously grant us the use of Saintfield Livestock Mart for the occasion and lastly the good people of Saintfield and a much wider area for the part they play too in making our event such a major one.”