[I]t was full steam ahead for Christmas this week at South Tynedale Railway in Alston, as a special Santa stream train delivered charity Christmas cards and gifts to Tourist Information Centre staff in Eden District. The Christmas cards and gifts are on sale at local visitors centres to raise money for Cards for Good Causes (CFGC) supported charities.
Meeting Santa and his helpers at South Tynedale Railway Preservation Society’s (STRPS) base in Alston was CFGC Chief Executive Jeremy Lune, CFGC Area Organiser Shelley Mills and Charlie Thornton, Eden District Council’s Tourism Development Officer.
Father Christmas had loaded a STRPS heritage train full of cards and gifts at Lintley Halt and had enjoyed a beautiful journey through the South Tynedale countryside before arriving at the end of the line in Alston.
On arrival, Father Christmas assisted by some Christmas helpers handed over a range of high quality Christmas cards and gifts to Elizabeth McDonald, Team Leader at Alston Local Links to sell in the town during the run up to Christmas. CFGC’s cards and gifts will also be on sale around the District at a number of the area’s Tourist Information Centres (TICs) including Penrith and Appleby, together with the Upper Eden Visitor Centre in Kirkby Stephen.
The cards are sold on behalf of a wide range of well know national charities. For every £1 spent 70p goes direct the charity. Over the years, charities around the UK have benefited substantially from the sales of Christmas cards and gifts sold from pop up shops around the country.
TICs have been used for many years as they are seen as important community hubs. During his visit to Eden, Jeremy Lune of CFGC was shown round Penrith TIC and introduced to the staff, who welcome and encourage many thousands of visitors, including a growing number of overseas visitors, to discover more about the region every year.
Jeremy Lune, Chief Executive of Cards for Good Causes, said: “Buying your Christmas cards through Cards for Good Causes is the best way to get access to the widest selection of cards out there, while supporting the charity of your choice.
“The proceeds from every card or product sold make a vital contribution to all of the charities that we partner. We are so pleased to be back in the Eden Valley and North Pennines for our 16 year in the area. During this time we have been incredibly well supported by local people and visitors, raising over £50,000 for dozens of charities, and look forward to receiving even more generous support this year.”
The launch of Charity Christmas Cards at Alston railway station is fitting as the country’s railways have and continue to play a role in transporting cards and gifts to people. Following the closure of the South Tynedale Railway in 1976 a preservation society was formed and over the years has brought the railway back to life into what is now a major tourist attraction within Eden and the North Pennines. The society has almost completed a three year £5.6 million development project to extend the current railway to Slaggyford along with carrying out extensive renovation and development of Alston railway station and it’s amenities along the line.
Heather Palmer, General Manager of South Tynedale Railway said: “We are delighted to have been asked to get involved with the launch of the Cards for Good Causes shops in the Eden Valley and North Pennines. As a charity ourselves we know how important every penny is, the revenue raised from these fantastic cards makes a vital contribution to the work of the charities involved.”
CFGC’s Christmas cards and gifts are on sale at TICs in Appleby and Penrith together with Alston’s Local Links and Kirkby Stephen’s Upper Eden Visitor Centre. TICs provide a wide range of information and services to visitors and the local community. At Penrith’s TIC, located in Middlegate, visitors can not only book theatre tickets for Penrith Players and Theatre by the Lake at Keswick but they can also purchase theatre tokens that can be redeemed at venues nationwide. Alongside this, the TIC acts as an important box office for many other events which take place throughout the year from open air theatre and music productions to the annual Wannasee Music Festival.
Most TICs are open six days a week between now and Christmas. Detailed opening hours can be found on the Visit Eden website www.visiteden.co.uk