Orwell Mencap Christmas float ends

ONE of Ipswich's long-running Christmas traditions has come to an end.Orwell Mencap's Olde Tyme Christmas float will not tour the estates of the town this year - although it will be paying three visits to the town centre on the Thursdays leading up to Christmas.

ONE of Ipswich's long-running Christmas traditions has come to an end.

Orwell Mencap's Olde Tyme Christmas float will not tour the estates of the town this year - although it will be paying three visits to the town centre on the Thursdays leading up to Christmas.

Over the years the float has raised more than one hundred thousand pounds for the charity which runs the Genesis Project in Wright road.

But this year a change in emphasis means that for this year at least, volunteers are not going to be walking the streets of Ipswich during December.


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Genesis manager Nino Serritiello said the charity was raising money in other ways, but recognised that the float had become part of the town's Christmas build-up.

He said: “We will be in the heart of the town all day on those Thursdays and the float is also being lent to other organisations.

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“It is going to an old people's home for a day - and it is quite possible that it will be back touring the town again in future.”

He said Orwell Mencap was considering involving other charity groups: “It is a big commitment, each night is several miles of walking for volunteers. People can do one night - but it's too much these days to expect people to do that every night for three weeks in the run-up to Christmas.”

The float has been going around the town for more than 20 years and founder Graham Bailey was saddened that it would not be touring this year.

He said: “I know they've had trouble finding volunteers. You do need quite a team and it is a big commitment and people live very busy lives these days.

“Over the years it's raised a phenomenal amount of money. I ran it for 17 years and I was always astonished that each year we seemed to get a bit more than we had the previous year.

“The money certainly helped to get the Genesis Project up and running. It's sad that it won't be touring but it will be in the town centre on the busy days and that should bring in a fair amount of money.”

But while Orwell Mencap's float will not be touring the town this year, The Round Table's Rudolph float will be hitting the road for the first time tomorrow night .

It will be visiting the Bixley Drive and Australia estate area of the town as it raises cash for local charities.

Rudolph has been touring the town for more than 30 years and there is clearly life in the reindeer yet.

During the three weeks leading up to the Christmas holiday the Round Tablers will take him to virtually every part of the town - as well as catching shoppers in the town centre.

Orwell Mencap facts:

Olde Tyme Christmas Float started operating in 1982.

The largest single year's total was £20,000.

Money raised helps fund the Genesis Project in Wright Road which provides work and training for people with learning disabilities.

The float will be on the Cornhill on December 8, 15, and 22.

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