A MUCH loved Christmas tradition raised more than £6,500 for charity.

The Rotary Club of Westhoughton’s annual tour through the town on Santa’s sleigh raised just over £6,523 in donations.

Over 13 nights before Christmas, children were able to meet Father Christmas.

They were able to give their wish lists to Santa — and received letters back.

The Rotary club supports between 25 and 30 charities and the cash raised will be split between them at a presentation evening in March.

Treasurer Ken Wood, said: “The donations are vital to our work all year round.

“Every penny we raise helps support local people, either through donations to local organisations and charities or supporting community events for all.

“This ranges from our Youth Speaks’ Comp-etitions to the annual Old People’s Party.”

The club has been running its tour since the 1970s and secretary Harold Daniels, aged 79, said the looks of excitement from children makes riding the sleigh worthwhile. He said: “The sleigh has become an institution in the town, as it has been going on for so many years.”

“The children get so excited when you drive past and it is such a fulfilling thing to do to make the kids so happy. It’s fantastic.”

Arthur Price, club president, said helpers had been touched by comments such as “my Christmas only starts when I see your sleigh outside my door”.

He added: “The Rotary Father Christmas tour is a well established local institution.

“I’d like to thank senior vice-president John Oakes and his dedicated band of Rotary and Inner Wheel collectors, as well as the other volunteer ‘elves’ who supported us so well.”

Mr Price also thanked Kia for supplying a car to tow the sleigh and the many town businesses and restaurants for allowing them to collect on their premises.