Bus company and volunteers provide Bramley grotto with a difference

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First bus has supported organisers to bring back a much-loved Bramley Christmas lights show after a three-year break.

The bus operator provided £1,000 in funding and a double-decker to be transformed into Santa’s Grotto at the event, which was held at Bramley Shopping Centre on Monday, 27 November.

As reported by WLD, visitors were entertained on a main stage with appearances by Leeds Rhinos players, the Christmas Lights switch on and a firework display. There was also a lantern parade.

The grotto was hosted by Bramley Care Bears, a local group running foodbanks, homework clubs, a woodworking group and garden makeovers.

Event organiser, local resident Helen Garrand, who began the show in 2012, said: “We’ve usually had Santa’s Grotto in a spare space at the shopping centre, but this year we wanted to think differently after the long gap in holding the event.

“We thought using a bus would be an unusual and intriguing way to do this and were delighted when First Bus said it would help and wanted to be more involved.”

Angela McConnell from the Bramley Care Bears, added: “We do all kinds of volunteering all over Bramley for children and adults, but the bus grotto is a first for us.

“We have really enjoyed developing the ideas about how to decorate the grotto and I think the finished product shows how creative our volunteers are. We are really proud of what we have come up with and  families were excited to see their children’s reaction to it.”

Helen has worked with ward councillor for Bramley and Stanningley, Councillor Caroline Gruen and the Breeze Team and Leeds City Council to stage the event, which included Christmas stalls from a range of 10 independent retailers and businesses.

The show saw performances by choirs from Whitecote Primary School and Raynville Primary School, Dazzle Dance Troupe and the Churches Together Choir. A lantern procession by Creative Communities Leeds, a social enterprise, made its way to the event from Bramley Park.

Councillor Caroline Gruen, said: “I know that I speak for my two ward colleagues, Councillors Kevin Ritchie and Tom Hinchcliffe, as well as myself, when I say how pleased we are to be involved in this creative collaboration between community volunteers, First Bus and the council.

“The initial idea of using a bus as our Santa’s Grotto has been transformed into reality by the wonderful Bramley Care Bears and First Bus colleagues. I am delighted the much-missed Bramley Festive Light Switch-On has returned and this amazing bus grotto really gives it a unique Christmas experience for the children.”

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