Vauxhall dealership Sherwoods became the nerve centre of a military-style operation to collect more than 900 Christmas trees.
The exercise raised more than £6,193 for St Teresa’s Hospice, Darlington, as it prepares to embark on a year of concentrated fund-raising to mark its 30th anniversary.
Sherwoods and Enterprise provided a fleet of vans while the manpower came from the Rotary Club of Darlington and the hospice.
Forty-five volunteers covered 25 rounds collecting a record number of trees for a donation of £5 or more for the charity.
Last year more than 550 trees were collected but the annual operation was extended this year to more than 900, thanks to a leafleting campaign by Darlington Rotarians and the support of local Christmas tree sellers – Croft Christmas Trees (Chayters), Elm Ridge, Blairs Nurseries and Paddock Farm Nursery and Water Gardens.
While intrepid collectors were out and about, a number of people who hadn’t booked also presented their trees and made donations.
The trees were transported to Wades for mulching and Taylors butchers kept the army on the move with a supply of bacon sandwiches and pies.
This year the rounds were also extended to Middleton St George and, with the extra volume of trees, took the volunteers all day to complete.
Sherwoods managing director Alasdair MacConachie said: “Taking down the decorations is generally tinged with sadness as it marks the end of the festive season.
“But how better to start the New Year than with a huge boost to St Teresa’s fund-raising efforts, which are more important than ever. I’d also like to thank Taylors for providing the refreshments for the day.”
Hospice chief executive Jane Bradshaw added: “This is our sixth Christmas Tree collection and definitely the best yet.
“Sherwoods, Enterprise and Rotary have been amazing and the efforts of all the volunteers are a perfect model of public service.
“As the hospice prepares to celebrate 30 years the demand for our services grows more than ever. Our new 10-bed in patient unit is going to be incredible but is only possible through the continued support of the community, for which we are eternally grateful.”
Darlington Rotary organiser David Hayward said: “By saving over 900 Darlington families from messing up their cars, we helped raise considerable funds for our local hospice. This type of community service venture is what Rotary is all about.”