Operation “Where”s Santa.”

For the last few years it’s become something of a tradition to hold on the last team training Wednesday evening of the year, a ‘Festive’ themed exercise.

Tonights exercise entitled Operation ‘Where’s Santa,’ saw 28x Call Out list members, our President Bob Hutchinson along with 6x Support Group members, and ex team members Steve Berry, Iain Peel, Ann Thompson and Di James, all gathering at Lower House Car Park, Rivington, at 8pm, to be briefed by Team Leader Garry Rhodes MBE on what was in store for the evening.

Everyone present was split into three teams and sent off into the Terraced Gardens at Rivington to locate three caches of Mince Pies secreted away, the position of such indicated by individual foot high models of Santa Claus.

As they searched each location for the elusive Mince Pies, upon finding them the three groups were then faced with different ‘games’ to compete against each other, ie ‘Over Under Balloon Racing,’ ‘Cotton Ball Steal’ and ‘Changing Places.’ Involving buckets, spoons, dishes, hi-viz vests, surgical gloves and lots of cheating apparently

Each team under the ‘expert leadership and guidance’, somewhat questionable, of Mark Parry, Ged Clarke and Geoff Seddon visited all three locations, successfully, no surprises here, munching their way through the mince pies.

Everyone was then directed to ‘Santas Grotto,’ otherwise known as the caves at the top of the ravine waterfalls in the Terraced Gardens.

Here all the boys and girls (sorry current and ex team members) had to patiently queue to await their turn to see Santa, who was there in all his splendour, surrounded by festive lights (ok, chemical lightsticks) with his helper Elaine Gilliland who introduced all the boys and girls to Santa.

Whilst waiting in the queue to see Santa nobody went thirsty as Santa had left bottles of whisky and wine for everyone to enjoy!

Santa had something to say to every boy and girl (sorry team members and ex team members) who all rather surprisingly informed Santa they had been good boys and girls all year. (yeah right ! )

The very surprising thing was that every single team member and ex team member, who at all other times in the teams year, always have something to say, appeared somewhat dumbstruck in front of Santa.

Everyone attending tonight got the Santa treatment, and all got the chance to rummage in Santa’s three present sacs to get their Christmas Gift, again imagine adults with the massive smiles of children as they all eagerly unwrapped their presents.

After all this fun it was a rush back down to the Lower House Car Park RVP, where Santa drew the winning ticket from a raffle held earlier in the evening, with Team Call Out list member Michael O’Brien winning a very large bottle of Whisky. See ‘news’ entry dated Wednesday 10th December 2008, for the background
to how this bottle of whisky was donated to the team by Dave Field.

We are pleased to report that this raffle raised £35.00 for team funds.

Santa then judged the ‘Festive headwear’ competition which most present took part in, and with so many Christmas hats to choose from it was difficult to pick a winner, so Santa had to retire with team members in tow to the Bay Horse Public House at the top of Babylon Lane, Heath Charnock, Adlington, which kindly stayed open for the team, and where Alan James’ hat was judged the winner.

As to the true identity of who was playing Santa Claus (which everyone present asked) well it was the old man himself, you just have to believe !

With thanks for tonights exercise to our Team Leader Garry Rhodes MBE and Elaine Gilliland who very kindly supplied all the food, drinks and gifts, including the excellent gift wrapping, to Ann Thompson for helping Garry set everything up (well they are a couple) and for the fun, much merriment and considerable entertainment provided by our Team Leaders Brother Andrew Rhodes, who is no relation to Santa Claus, apparently !