SANTA and his band of helpers from Ryedale Lions Club begin their annual sleigh tour at the Pickering Christmas lights switch-on this Saturday.

Then Father Christmas will be flying around some 30 towns and villages of north Ryedale over the next three weeks to make it a Christmas to remember for children and grown-ups who come out to meet him.

Santa’s elves from the Lions Club will be with the sleigh and collecting door-to-door in their biggest fund-raising event of the year, hoping to top the £9,000 collected last year.

The largest beneficiaries from this year’s collection will be three charities based in the Ryedale area - Ryedale Carers, Wilf Ward Trust and the Encephalitis Society.

“The delight on the faces of children enjoying their special visit from Father Christmas is a real sight to see. It means we shall be able to raise much-needed money to help many local and deserving causes,” said Ryedale Lions sleigh organiser Brian Johnson.

This year, more of Santa’s visits to the smaller villages will have a central fixed stop around the main street or village hall so that as many people as possible can see him. “We hope these villages will take the opportunity to make it a real festive occasion,” said Brian.

Information on Santa’s sleigh routes can be found at The planned schedule for Ryedale Lions Santa sleigh (subject to weather) is: Saturday, November 30, Pickering Lights Switch-on 5.15pm; Sunday, December 1, Helmsley (East) 4pm, Helmsley (West) 6.30pm; Monday, December 2, Rosedale 4.40pm, Cropton 5.40pm, Lastingham 6.15pm, Hutton-le-Hole 7pm; Tuesday, December 3, Fadmoor 4.30pm, Gillamoor 5pm, Beadlam 5.30pm, Nawton 6.40pm; Thursday, December 5, Oswaldkirk 5.30pm, Ampleforth 6.30pm; Saturday, December 7, Kirkbymoorside West 4pm; Sunday, December 8, Kirkbymoorside East 4pm, then Kirkby Mills & Keldholme; Monday, December 9, Middleton/Aislaby 5pm, Wrelton 5.45pm, Appleton 6.30pm; Tuesday, December 10, Thornton Dale (South) 5.15pm; Wednesday, December 11, Thornton Dale (North) 5.15pm; Thursday, December 12, Salton 5.30pm, Normanby 6pm, Marton 6.50pm, Sinnington 7.30pm; Friday, December 13, Pickering Supermarkets (provisional); Saturday, December 14, Pickering (South West) 4pm, Pickering (East) 6pm; Sunday, December 15, Pickering (North West) 4pm, Pickering (North) 6pm; Monday, December 16, Nunnington 5.30pm, Harome 6.30pm, Wombleton 7.50pm; Thursday, December 19, Wilton, 5.30pm, Ebberston/Allerston 6.30pm; Friday, December 20, Helmsley Market Place (provisional); Saturday, December 21, Pickering Market Place 10.30am to 2.30pm, Great Edstone 4pm.