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7 easy ways to give something back this Christmas

PUBLISHED: 11:02 30 November 2018 | UPDATED: 12:05 30 November 2018

Hop on board the vintage Routemaster bus and take in the sights of Norwich from December 20-24 - all donations will go to charity    Picture: Awayadays

Hop on board the vintage Routemaster bus and take in the sights of Norwich from December 20-24 - all donations will go to charity Picture: Awayadays

Archant

Amid the frenzy of shopping, wrapping, decorating, cooking, writing cards and generally Christmasifying anything and everything, spare a thought for the hungry, lonely, poorly and even the furry in Norfolk this Christmas. Here are some ideas to get you started.

The EDP and Norwich Evening News Carols for Christmas service will take place at St Peter Mancroft Church, Norwich, again this year     

Picture: James BassThe EDP and Norwich Evening News Carols for Christmas service will take place at St Peter Mancroft Church, Norwich, again this year Picture: James Bass

1 Hop on board a vintage Routemaster

Following the success of the free vintage bus rides around Norwich in Christmas 2017, which raised £1,500 for The Benjamin Foundation, David McMaster, who runs Awayadays Routemaster Hire, will once again offer festive shoppers a chance to hop on his vintage London bus, and this year it will raise money for Big C, Norfolk and Waveney’s cancer charity.

David and his small team of drivers and conductors have chosen the charity following the sad loss of two of their colleagues, Ray Traynor and David Brown, this year - both of whom drove Routemaster 2151 on a regular basis.

Whether it’s shopping for those last-minute gifts or just enjoying the fabulous, festive atmosphere in Norwich, the Routemaster bus will be a great way to get around the city this Christmastime.

Lowestoft Christmas Day swim 2017       Picture: Paul ToplisLowestoft Christmas Day swim 2017 Picture: Paul Toplis

From December 20-24 there will be six trips each day, departing Castle Meadow hourly from 10.30-3.30. The vintage Routemaster double-decker will operate a circular route around the city, calling at St Stephens Street, City Hall, and Norwich Rail Station before returning to Castle Meadow at the end of a 30-minute journey.

2 Attend a Christmas carol service

Attending a carol service is one of the best ways to get in the festive spirit, and several local charities organise them to raise funds and celebrate the good work that’s been done throughout the year.

Norwich Foodbank volunteers, left to right, Pam Broughton and Barbara Moore       Picture: ANTONY KELLYNorwich Foodbank volunteers, left to right, Pam Broughton and Barbara Moore Picture: ANTONY KELLY

The Eastern Daily Press & Norwich Evening News Carols for Christmas event will take place again this year on Tuesday, December 11 at St Peter Mancroft Church in Norwich. Tickets cost £5, with money going to The Hamlet Centre, which provides recreational, educational and social opportunities for children and adults with profound disabilities and complex health needs, from birth to 29 years and beyond.

Doors open at 6pm and the performance starts at 7pm.

3 Take a dip

Hillside Animal Sanctuary is selling hay in lieu of a gift          Picture: Hillside Animal SanctuaryHillside Animal Sanctuary is selling hay in lieu of a gift Picture: Hillside Animal Sanctuary

Join the hundreds of people who brave the freezing waters of the North Sea on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. It certainly blows away the cobwebs and also raises much-needed funds for local charities, as those not taking the plunge make a donation to a chosen charity in appreciation of the spectacle – lots of people wear fancy dress too, making it even more enjoyable.

There are events at Hunstanton, Cromer, Lowestoft, Overstrand and Southwold.

4 Feed those in need

The Christmas Giving Tree at Norwich Waterstones       Picture: Norwich WaterstonesThe Christmas Giving Tree at Norwich Waterstones Picture: Norwich Waterstones

There are so many reasons why people might go hungry this Christmas. Maybe they’re homeless, maybe they’re old and live on their own, or perhaps they’re just struggling to make ends meet.

Luckily, there are lots of ways that you can help make a difference to these people. Several organisations, from schools and supermarkets to local businesses, will be collecting food for food banks, or consider donating or volunteering at a community Christmas lunch event – they’re taking place all over the county so get involved.

5 Buy some hay for our furry friends

Attend a Christmas market that's raising money for charity and indulge in some tasty festive treats     Picture: Getty Images/iStockPhotoAttend a Christmas market that's raising money for charity and indulge in some tasty festive treats Picture: Getty Images/iStockPhoto

Hillside Animal Sanctuary gets through 150 tonnes of hay a week over the colder months for food and bedding materials for more than 2,000 horses, about 500 cows, 500 sheep and goats, 300 pigs and lots more animals. And with prices rising by 25pc due to the hot, dry summer, the charity is in desperate need of donations.

If you have a relative or friend who’s an animal lover, why not donate a “Gift of Hay” to help feed the rescued animals in lieu of a present? A bale costs £5, and in return you will receive a greetings card, a 2019 mini calendar and a gift certificate.

6 Give a book to a child in care

A book is a fantastic gift for anyone on your list this Christmas, so while you’re carefully selecting the perfect tome, why not choose one for one of the many children in care in Norfolk too?

The County Council has again teamed up with Waterstones to launch the Giving Tree Appeal. Located in the Norwich Castle Street branch of Waterstones, the Giving Tree will be decorated with hundreds of tags, each representing a child.

More than 400 children across Norfolk use these tags to request a book - either a specific title, author or genre – and rely on the generosity of the public to purchase it for them.

It’s really simple: visit the branch before Saturday, December 8, select a tag from the tree, and buy the book. After the appeal ends, the books are collected, wrapped and delivered to children in time for Christmas.

Those who can’t get to Waterstones can still get involved - just call 01603 767292 and ask for the Children’s Department or email norwich@waterstones.com.

7 Visit a Christmas fair

Keep your eye out for Christmas fairs in support of local charities. These events are often a highlight in the fundraising year, and as well as supporting some fantastic local charities, you can also pick up some unique gifts for loved ones.

Break, which helps children with disabilities, young people in care and the families that support them, will be holding a Snowflake Extravaganza on Monday, December 17 at The Cathedral of St John the Baptist in Norwich.

The festive evening starts at 4.30pm and includes mulled wine and mince pies, a Christmas market, a carol concert and Christmas activity tables for children. Standard entry is £2.

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