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Thursday, 17 April 2014

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Santa’s grotto delights record number of kids

By Gareth JonesNEARLY 500 people flocked to a magical Christmas grotto this year.

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AMAZING: Hattie Lee, left, with Margaret Burrow MBE of the Barrow and District Disability Association and well-wisher Ellie McCabe

The Barrow and District Disability Association had an unprecedented number of visitors over the weekends of December 8 and 15.

Father Christmas saw 499 children giving their requests for presents at the association’s headquarters in School Street.

Honorary secretary Margaret Burrow MBE said the grotto continues to grow in popularity and size.

She said: “It was absolutely amazing. I think we had 377 people visit us last year.

“We had certainly more people in before and there were children everywhere.

“It was fantastic, we got a lot of positive comments and the children loved it.

“You are in a responsible position when you are doing a grotto, as you are building children’s memories.”

The grotto has grown in size over the years and now fills much of the centre, with volunteers and staff spending hundreds of hours preparing the centre for Santa and the children.

The grotto is fully accessible for wheelchairs and is suitable for visually impaired youngsters as it is full of different textures and perfumed with frankincense and myrrh.

Mrs Burrow launched an appeal in the Evening Mail for donations of pitch pine, which she laid to create a smell of Christmas in memory of a young boy who died not long after visiting the grotto.

She said: “Two people brought me a block of pitch pine and shavings as well, so we got the nice pine smell which helps to make it more memorable for the children.

“We also got a donation of £500 from Peter Schofield of Schofield Construction, towards buying items for the grotto next year.”

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