An amazing £186,000 raised by the 2014 Black Santa Sitout was handed over to charities at the annual Good Samaritans Service in St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast, on Sunday February 1.
Special guest was Claire McCollum, presenter of Songs of Praise and a parishioner of St Patrick’s Jordanstown, who kindly agreed to hand over all the cheques – almost 200 of them!
Practically every charity to receive an award was present as well as many visitors and guests, and all were welcomed by the Dean of Belfast, the Very Rev John Mann, who staged his fourth Black Santa Sitout on the steps of the Cathedral before Christmas.
“This is an occasion for celebration,” the Dean said. “Throughout the Black Santa Sitout the emphasis is very much on the people who give the money which comes from lots of sources in small and large amounts.
“Today as we distribute £186,000 there is a sense of moving from recognising the giver to those who use the money and do a huge amount of work in our city and province. I am delighted to see so many people here.”
Cheques were presented to charities working with children and young people, groups serving the community, charities supporting families, international groups and organisations working in medical research and support.
After the presentations, Claire paid tribute to the work of the charities. She said she had last been in the Cathedral at an event the night before Dean Mann began his Sitout in December. “Little did I know I would be back here to see the journey completed,” Claire said.
“In my line of work I get to look in on some very special events, and today is another example of the fantastic good news stories we have here in Northern Ireland. I know the money handed out will be put to good use.”
Claire, who made special mention of the beautiful singing by the Cathedral Choir, added: “This has been a really, really special afternoon for me.”
During the service a collection was taken up for the 2015 Black Santa Appeal, which is now open for donations!