He’s affectionately known as Newry’s Black Santa and Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without his annual sit-out in the City at this time of year.
John Dalzell has been doing it for 31 years and in the process raised more than £2 million for his local Hospice.
Some feat for a man who turns 81 on the 21st of December.
“I enjoy what I am doing. People in Newry are very generous” he said. They have told me it wouldn’t be the same if I wasn’t here each year”.
John was awarded an OBE in the New Year’s Honours List last year to add to the MBE he had already received for his charitable work over the years.
Despite his age and the winter weather, he said he would keep collecting donations from the public until he is on doing it until he is no longer fit to do so
James McCaffrey from the Southern Area Hospice Services is full of admiration for John. “We have many volunteers who are just brilliant but John stands out and his resilience is to be praised.”
He continued: ‘Even through Covid, he wanted to continue and raise money. We are so grateful to John”
John added “The people here have been absolutely brilliant. People from Companies, Firms, Churches, and individuals, they all come down and give me money for the Hospice. And that’s great.”
John wears the same red suit he wore when he first started his sit-out, making him look more like the real deal.
The Black Santa name came about because the late Dean of St Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast Samuel Crooks who started the annual sit-out tradition in 1976 used to wear a black cloak and black woolie hat to keep warm while he was collecting donations.
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