The dean of Belfast Cathedral has finished his marathon Black Santa appeal and hopes to top last year’s total.
Dean John Mann said single donations have been worth up to £5,000. This year has seen the introduction of a card-reading machine, capable of taking payments electronically.
He has stood outside St Anne’s clad in black for about nine hours a day accepting donations. The money will be split among many different charities.
All the money gathered is donated to local charities with a proportion given to Christian Aid. The range of charities includes medical research; those caring for children, youth and the elderly; the improvement of employment opportunities for young people and a host of small charities which cannot afford paid fundraisers.
Most of the money donated is given by people who come to the cathedral during the sit out. Contributions are made by individuals, families, schools, offices and workplaces.
The Black Santa tradition at Belfast Cathedral was started by Dean Sammy Crooks in 1976.
Concerned at the emphasis being placed on necessary and costly building programmes at the cathedral, Dean Crooks decided to stand on Donegall Street in front of the cathedral and beg for the poor and charitable causes.
With a small barrel in which donations could be placed, and dressed in the familiar black Anglican clerical cloak, Dean Crooks sat out each day of the week before Christmas. It began the tradition of Belfast’s deans sitting out for charities.