Black Santa sitout 2013 launched by Lord Mayor of Belfast

Tuesday December 17th 2013

Lord Mayor of Belfast Máirtín Ó Muilleoir launches the Black Santa sitout along with the Dean of Belfast and the Bishop of Connor, The Rt Rev Alan Abernethy.The 37th annual Christmas sitout by the Dean and Chapter of Belfast Cathedral got underway at 9am on Monday December 16.

Lord Mayor of Belfast Máirtín Ó Muilleoir launched the Black Santa charity sitout on the steps of St Anne’s Cathedral along with the Dean of Belfast and the Bishop of Connor, The Rt Rev Alan Abernethy.

In the days leading up to Christmas Eve, the Very Rev John Mann will be joined on the cathedral steps by cathedral clergy, the Bishops of Connor and Down and Dromore, and members of the Cathedral Chapter.

As usual, most of the money collected will be distributed to local charities, with a portion going towards overseas work. This year there will be a separate collection to be donated to the Philippines Appeal.

Canons Ken McReynolds, Lambeg Parish, and Ronnie Nesbitt, Bangor Abbey, taking part in the Black Santa sitout at St Anne's on Tuesday December 17.Dean Mann said: “As we begin the Black Santa sitout again this year we are very conscious of needing to support local charities as we always do, but we are also very aware of the situation in the Philippines and elsewhere in the world.

“The Christmas sitout will be divided in the way it usually is, with most of the money going to small local charities and some going towards overseas development, but we will keep a separate collection for anyone who wishes to give specifically to the Philippines Appeal.”

Black Santa himself, Dean John Mann.This will be the 37th Black Santa sitout, a tradition started in 1976 by Dean Sammy Crooks who, concerned at the emphasis being placed on necessary and costly building programmes at the Cathedral, decided to stand on Donegall Street in front of the Cathedral and beg for the poor and charitable causes.

The sitout takes place from 9am–5.30pm every day from December 16 until Christmas Eve with the exception of Sunday December 22.

Reflecting on his annual challenge, Dean Mann said: “I have not risked checking the weather forecast, I just hope it doesn’t rain. But whatever the weather, I look forward to meeting lots of people on the steps of the Cathedral in the coming days.”

As ever, the media has shown its support for the annual appeal which has featured in many radio and television programmes and in daily newspapers. The Belfast Telegraph will be running its annual Black Santa Diary during the sitout, so readers can keep up with the day to day happenings on the steps of the Cathedral.

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