Santa delivers turkeys as well as gifts this Christmas in Sheffield

A local hero made sure no-one went hungry this Christmas as he delivered turkeys to vulnerable families in North Sheffield while dressed as Santa Clause.

Thursday, 24th December 2020, 10:45 am

Gary Chamberlain, from Oughtibridge, delivered Christmas dinner to 81 families in a charitable initiative that sprang from his Facebook group, Helping Oughtibridge, Worrall & Wharncliffe Locals (HOWWL).

Mr Chamberlain, aged 57, set up HOWWL last December, with the goal of helping his community. Then the country was hit by the Coronavirus pandemic, and he reacted, shifting HOWWL’s focus to supporting those in need during lockdown.

“My idea was to protect the vulnerable and ensure people didn’t feel isolated” he said. He started a befriending service, but soon turned his attention to the ticking time-bomb of lockdown food poverty.

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Santa (Gary Chamberlain) pictured on his rounds delivering turkeys

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Amid the free school meals uproar earlier this year, Mr Chamberlain was delivering hot meals to children in his community. HOWWL has now raised over £1,200 so eligible families can receive a turkey for the big day.

He said: “We can’t change what the government is doing but we can do something positive.”

He delivered the turkeys along with other Christmas treats, alongside an army of volunteers from the now thousand-strong Facebook group.

“We are going to make Christmas brighter for so many families.”

His act of kindness comes as S6 foodbank revealed demand for parcels in North Sheffield had increased four-fold compared with last December, and they give out nine tonnes of food per week.

A young mum, who asked not to be named, has been amongst those relying on food donations, and received a turkey from HOWWL.

“It’s been a massive weight off my shoulders,” she said. “Without Gary, I would have been stressing about money.”

She said before she became a parent she hadn’t struggled to put food on the table, but that this year had been challenging. She still wanted it to feel like Christmas for her child, she added, but the turkey was the most expensive part of Christmas dinner. She remained nervous about the future, saying: “The support is so thin on the ground. We can’t have this pandemic and expect everyone to carry on as normal.”

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.