Giant crane brings Santa’s grotto down to earth

From left, Claire Hayward of Quay Place; Paul Sheppard, of SMART, and Chris Brind, of BJ&C Carberry

From left, Claire Hayward of Quay Place; Paul Sheppard, of SMART, and Chris Brind, of BJ&C Carberry Picture: PAUL NIXON - Credit: Archant

Santa donned his hard-hat as his new two-tonne grotto was lowered into its magical new home at a former Ipswich church – thanks to a Sheppard.

Inside Quay Place grotto Picture: QUAY PLACE

Inside Quay Place grotto Picture: QUAY PLACE - Credit: Archant

Local businesses came to Santa's aid to help solve a few logistical challenges as the grotto - donated by Thurston-based SMART Garden Rooms, Offices & Studios - was eased over a high wall by a busy road and into Quay Place, a heritage and wellbeing centre run by mental health charity Suffolk Mind.

"Lifting a building that weighs approximately two tonnes over a 14ft wall and from over 40ft away was always going to be a challenge - we needed to find a substantial crane to carry out such a task for free," said SMART operations director Paul Sheppard.

MORE - Then and now: 10 years of change on Ipswich high street (Part 3)"Luckily Whip Street Motors of Ipswich stepped in to donate the lift for us which was carried out by BJ&C Carberry, also for free."

The donated building - which will initially house Santa and his elves - isn't just for Christmas though, and will be used for a variety of activities year-round.

Mr Sheppard said: "It's been very exciting to see this project to assist Quay Place coming together with the building swiftly being shipped down the A14, delivered and installed by our various teams and ready for the chap in red and white."

Ginny Idehen, head of business operations at Suffolk Mind, said: "Our aim at Suffolk Mind is to make Suffolk the best place in the world for talking about and taking care of mental health. Our grotto is helping us to achieve that aim by raising money to support our services whilst bringing some Christmas magic to Ipswich."

The grotto is open from Friday, November 22. To book your child a space, visit here.

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