Lord Montagu waved the chequered starting flag for the biggest ever VW Santa Run, as a record 152 VWs set off in convoy from Beaulieu to deliver Christmas presents to youngsters at the Piam Brown unit at Southampton General Hospital.
As many as 385 participants entered into the Christmas spirit for the annual charity run across the New Forest on Sunday 2nd December, by dressing up in festive costumes and covering their VWs with wacky seasonal decorations. Classic split-screen and bay-window VW T2 campers were joined by their modern T3, T4, T5 and T6 van and motorhome counterparts to fill the Beaulieu Events Arena, along with Beetles and even trikes with VW-engines.
Accompanied on their journey by a team of motorcycle out-riders for their sixth annual convoy, the colourful VWs delivered hundreds of donated gifts to the unit for children and teenagers with cancer and haematological disorders, with enough presents for hospital doctors and nurses too. An extra 36 VWs to last year took part in the event.
At the start-line in the grounds of the National Motor Museum, Lord Montagu gave prizes for the best dressed van and family. The coveted Best Dressed Family prize was won by a collaboration of two families. Austen, Nicky, Aoife, Fintan and Orlagh of the Hornsby family from Yateley near Farnborough, joined forces with David, Christy, Lucy and Ollie of the Court family from Farnborough, to create a team of eight Santas and one Rudolf!
The Best Dressed Van award went to Steve Wright and his family, who had set off from Bristol early that morning in their 2003 VW T4 van decorated with thousands of fairy lights. Appropriately, Lord Montagu presented both sets of winners with their prizes of Beaulieu biscuits and fudge, plus a VW plaque, in front of the Christmas at Beaulieu Cathedral of light tunnel on the illuminated festive trail.
The Best Dressed Dog award was presented to three-year-old Cockapoo Max, who was dressed in a cosy Christmas jumper by his owners, the Ford family from Camberley. Lord Montagu gave Max a cuddly dog toy as his prize.
Beaulieu continues its festive celebration with the first Christmas at Beaulieu light trail in the grounds of the attraction until December 24th. Explore the Fire Garden Cloister, then walk through a Tunnel of Light festooned by a canopy of over 100,000 twinkling pea-lights on the one-mile trail. See the dancing lights on the walls of Palace House, follow a path of giant icicle shards, enter the Meadow of Light with thousands of fibre optics and listen to the ‘singing’ tree finale. Catch a glimpse of Father Christmas and his elves on the veteran bus and enjoy traditional fairground rides, with marshmallows roasted on a fire pit. For tickets and details see www.beaulieu.co.uk/Christmas.
From December 22nd to January 6th Beaulieu’s daytime visitors can enjoy a traditional Victorian Christmas in Palace House, joining the Montagu family, played by costumed actors, as they rehearse the pantomime Aladdin and prepare for Christmas and New Year festivities in 1889. Feel the warm glow of carols and punch by a roaring log fire, see traditional decorations and towering Christmas trees in every room, then talk to Lord Montagu’s cook and her kitchen maid as they prepare for Christmas Day lunch. For more information see www.beaulieu.co.uk or call 01590 612345.