Dean gets ready for his first Black Santa sit-out

Dean of Belfast, the Very Rev Stephen Forde, prepares for his first Black Santa sit-out, which gets under way at Belfast Cathedral on December 17.
Dean of Belfast, the Very Rev Stephen Forde, prepares for his first Black Santa sit-out, which gets under way at Belfast Cathedral on December 17.

Black Santa will take up his post on the steps of Belfast Cathedral on Monday, December 17 for the 42nd annual sit-out for charities.

This is Dean Stephen Forde’s first Christmas as Black Santa, and he is looking forward to greeting people outside St Anne’s each day come rain or shine.

Funds raised on the steps of the cathedral aid the vital work of more than 200 local charities who offer support and opportunities to those in need in the local community.

The Black Santa tradition was established in 1976 by Dean Sammy Crooks who stood outside the cathedral in the days before Christmas urging people to ‘give and let live’ to support the sick, hungry and poor.

His distinctive black Anglican clerical cloak quickly earned him the nickname Black Santa, and a tradition which has lasted more than four decades was established.

Urging people to contribute whatever they can to the 2018 appeal, Dean Forde said: “I know that the people of Belfast and far beyond see making a gift to Black Santa as a special part of preparing for Christmas.

“Over the past 42 years, parents and children, work colleagues and passers-by, people of faith and people of goodwill have reached into their pockets to place their pennies and their pounds into the famous wooden barrel. Because Christmas is not about what we get for ourselves, it is at heart about what we give and what is given.”

Funds raised through the Black Santa sit-out are distributed to local charities and organisations, with a small portion going to charities working overseas among those who have little food and few prospects.

Donations to the appeal can also be made online at www.belfastcathedral.org