Rotarians save Christmas and raise £4,000 for charity

Rotarian holding vouchers after fun-raising

Rotarian Elfriede Osborn with vouchers that were donated to The Torbay Domestic Abuse Service - Credit: Submitted

Members of Torquay’s Sunrise Rotary Club have not allowed restrictions to halt their good work and they have proved that sometimes a crisis can bring out the best in people – including ‘saving’ Christmas. 

They pulled out all the stops to make sure Torquay had its traditional Christmas Santa’s Grotto. 

The festive event was in danger of not happening at all as the Bay went into its second national lockdown in November.  

But, after careful re-construction, sanitization and online ticketing arrangements, restrictions were eased to allow the doors to finally opened on December 5. 

More than 2,500 people visited the grotto and over £4,000 was raised for local charities. Bucket collections also raised £240 for the Children’s Hospice South West. 

Sunrise president Daniel Boatwright said: “We were able to keep the tradition alive, while following government guidelines, of course. 

“We were completely sold out.” 

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Sunrise Rotary Club members called on fellow Rotarians from Tormohun Rotary Club and Torquay Ladies Circle to assist. 

Steve Holdup, Rotarian and organizer of the grotto, said: “We owe a huge thank you to all our helpers who made it possible to mark our 30th year at the Fleet Walk grotto. 

“We proved that together we could overcome the obstacles in a full professional and safe way and continue to bring Santa’s Grotto alive when we all desperately needed some extra Christmas cheer.” 

The Torbay Sunrise club continues to meet regularly via Zoom. 

Sunrisers Beryl Durtnall and Elfriede Osborn have been busy selling home-made face masks and, with the proceeds have donated £500 to Rowcroft Hospice HomeCare and, more recently, a further £1,000 to Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust. 

A donation of £1,000 has been donated to Watcombe School for much-needed technology equipment. 

Torbay Domestic Abuse Service received £150 Superdrug vouchers to support clients in need of toiletries while seeking refuge in safe houses. 

The club is currently supporting Physionet who collect surplus aids for the disabled to be shipped out to charities around the world and are calling for people who have unwanted items such as wheelchairs, crutches and walking frames to donate them for those in need. 

For more information email the club’s secretary at or visit