Santa paddle raises thousands for Hackney Foodbank
- Credit: Vanessa Powell
A group of friends who paddled down Regent's Canal on Christmas Day dressed in Santa suits have raised more than £3,000 for charity.
Hackney residents Vanessa Powell and Jess Dante, who live on the canal, came up with the fundraising idea as a means of supporting Hackney Foodbank this year.
Vanessa said: "I usually volunteer but a lot of the volunteering programmes weren’t open this year because of Covid."
"I have a boat and we came up with the idea of dressing up as Santa and paddling up and down the canal.
"We wanted to raise money for a local charity and we think the Hackney Foodbank is great."
The four friends including Elisa and Anya, who did not provide their surnames, braved the cold on December 25 in a dinghy.
They set sail at about 10.30am from Broadway Market. The four-mile voyage took them to Angel and back and it took three and a half hours.
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"It took quite a bit longer than expected," said Vanessa.
She told the Gazette: "Our target was £3,000 and we were £900 short on the day – so it was quite a still quite a lot of ground to make up.
"But everyone on Christmas Day was so generous. We had a stocking whilst we were paddling down the canal that passers-by put money into.
"Loads of people we met along the way donated as well."
Vanessa described how the four festive boaters made sure to blast classic Christmas tunes the whole way.
"That was one of the loveliest things actually, making people smile along the canal, we were handing out chocolates to kids and stuff - it was a laugh," she added.
The group has kept the fundraiser open and are encouraging people to donate.
"We would love to raise as much money as we possibly can," Vanessa said.
"Thank you to all the people who supported and donated. It means a lot the amount of support we got and its going to make a big difference to Hackney Foodbank."
To donate to the group's X-mas Santa Cruise fundraiser, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/xmas-santa-cruise