Warrington Disability Partnership

Warrington Disability Partnership Brings Early Christmas Sparkle to Walton Gardens

Dozens of volunteers from Warrington Disability Partnership and their friends successfully delivered what has to be, the most inclusive Santa's Grotto anywhere

Where else would you find
not just a great Santa and Mrs Claus, helpful and happy Elves, that is fully wheelchair accessible,
and offered two quiet and none rushed Autism Hours and had a Santa who communicated with
deaf children and their parents through British Sign Language and Makaton.

Dave Thompson MBE DL, Chief Executive and Head Elf at WDP’s Grotto said “We were excited
when Warrington Borough Council gave us the opportunity to run the Santa’s Grotto in the
Heritage Yard at Walton Gardens. We knew it would be a busy six days over the three weekends
in December, but with nearly 1,800 children visiting Santa, it far surpassed our plans, which
sometimes resulted in queues as we didn’t want to compromise the quality time each child had
with Santa”.

Dave added, “With little over one month to plan everything, we were pleased with the range of
entertainment we were able to secure which included Signature Brass, Caldo Brass, Wa4 Brass
Rock Choir, WIRED for Sound and Warrington BSL Signing Choir. Alongside children’s
entertainers Elsa and WDP’s Ollie Owl visitors were treated to yule log decorating, pottery
painting, letters to Santa, MEGA Christmas Raffle, as well as WDP’s famous Teddy Tomobla”.

Dave said “The middle Sunday started well with over 80 Santa’s joining our first ever 3k Santa
Dash that was supported by Birchwood Shopping Centre. The event brought colour and laughter
as families and friends took to the paths around the park. Special guests included fundraising mini-
heroes Ruben and Elena Evans and the legendary marathon runner Sarah Mathews, who has run
52 marathons in the past 52 weeks despite living with a long-term debilitating illness”.

The WDP Santa’s Grotto was supported by Walton Hall Rangers, F11 Photography, Warrington
Worldwide and The Duckpond. Special guests the Mayor of Warrington Councillor Wendy
Johnson and Mayoress Beverley Hallam and Ruben and Elena helped to official open the Grotto.

Feedback has been extremely positive, so much so, that the team at WDP are already thinking
about next year’s events.

Until then, Dave and his team will be busy planning next year’s Disability
Awareness Day that will be held on Sunday 12 th July, once again at Walton Gardens.