For the past 8 years, Yorkshire Children’s Trust has provided gifts to hospitals in the Yorkshire region to ensure no child wakes up in hospital on Christmas morning without a gift to open. This year the charity has provided gifts to Calderdale Royal Hospital, Bradford Royal Infirmary, Airedale Hospital, Dewsbury & Pinderfields and Leeds General Infirmary.
Since 2017, the charity has provided a grotto experience at Calderdale with a special visit from Santa Blake who has his own majestic beard and custom-made suit and has provided tears of happiness to children who have had to suffer the torment of spending Christmas time in hospital.
Despite the pandemic, Santa Blake has worked with Yorkshire Children’s Trust and the play workers at Calderdale to ensure that even though he couldn’t be there in person, he was able to make live video calls from his magical workshop and ensure the children had a gift to open.
Blake Meyer, also known to many in and around Yorkshire as Santa Blake, is a free to hire, charity Santa who has been supporting and raising funds for Yorkshire Children’s Trust since 2017. Originally from the United States, Blake found himself stationed here in the UK as a member of the US Air Force in 1997 and eventually retired in 2012 after 20 years of active duty service. Upon retirement from military service, Blake and his family made their way to Yorkshire which is now where they consider home.
In the run-up to Christmas in 2016, Blake was invited out with friends for a festive jumper pub crawl around York, but instead of a jumper, Blake showed up in a fancy-dress Santa costume. Already possessing a rather lengthy beard and a ‘little round belly’, “it seemed the obvious choice”, joked Blake.
Blake said “After a very surreal evening shaking hands, taking photos, and speaking to hundreds of children, and adults on the streets of York, Santa Blake was born.” Blake’s friends assured him he had the right look and personality to be a very realistic Father Christmas and after another similar experience in Harrogate, Blake decided to take it to the next step and started to plan for Christmas 2017.
For 2017, Blake invested in a custom-made suit, created a social media account, and put himself out for hire. He decided early on not to charge for appearances as he knew all too well how expensive Christmas was already having raised a family. Blake soon started researching charities to support. Insisting it be small, local and for the benefit of children and their families. It didn’t take long for Santa Blake to decide on Yorkshire Children’s Trust.
Blake said, “As a small and local charity who receive no lottery, NHS or central government funding, the choice was easy, Yorkshire Children’s Trust fit the bill perfectly. After a call to the charity founder, Simon Widdop, Santa Blake was ready to go!”.
As of the end of 2021, Santa Blake has seen thousands of children and helped to raise £13,260 for the charity with no plans of stopping. Blake stated “This is not a solo effort by any means. There has been a lot of community support for Santa Blake and a lot of individual helpers who have sacrificed their own time to help Santa raise these essential funds for a truly local charity”.
Santa Blake continues, “The goal is simple… Keep the magic of Christmas alive and help to raise funds for local children and families in need. The gift of giving is the best gift of all.”
For his fantastic and amazing fundraising efforts, Santa Blake has this Christmas been given the honorary title of Patron of Yorkshire Children’s Trust. Charity Founder, Simon says “Santa Blake has been wonderful to work with over the last few years and he has a real warm heart and dedication to helping others. He has raised a substantial amount of money, every penny of which is used to support local children and their families through our emotional and financial support themes.”
“It is our pleasure to offer Blake the honorary role of Patron of Yorkshire Children’s Trust as he is a real ambassador for the charity and has the magic to help make Christmas special for hundreds of children every single year”.
Blake Meyer and the charity team at Yorkshire Children’s Trust plan to continue their annual grotto experience at Calderdale Hospital, with plans to extend to other hospitals in the region when the pandemic has subsided.
Yorkshire Children’s Trust with the help of local businesses and members of the public has managed to gift approximately 2000 gifts to deserving children this Christmas time who have to spend the holidays in hospital.