Lord Montagu waved the tinsel-adorned starting flag as 116 VWs set off from Beaulieu to deliver Christmas presents to youngsters at the Piam Brown unit at Southampton General Hospital.
Numbers for the colourful convoy were at an all-time high, with 235 adults and 94 children riding in impressive classic and custom VWs laden with gifts, making the annual charity run the biggest and most successful yet.
Not only were presents gathered for the Piam Brown unit for children and teenagers with cancer and haematological disorders, but there were enough gifts for children spending December in other wards across the whole hospital.
In beautiful winter sunshine, Lord Montagu presented Beaulieu’s gifts to event organiser Phil Ashby, before the assorted VW campers and Beetles hit the road to collect even more gifts en route. Phil led the procession in his classic T2 camper, while stewards and outriders on motorcycles accompanied the convoy.
Prizes were given to the most eye-catching participants who entered into the Christmas spirit, with jolly festive costumes for themselves and their VWs. Ken Griffin, from Winchester, was dressed as Father Christmas and won the Best Dressed Van award for his bright yellow 1995 VW T4 with Beano comic graphics. Ken had laden his van with strands of tinsel and secured cuddly toy animals to his roof-rack.
The Best Dressed Family award went to Sheryl, Katie, Scott and Adam Hayward, from Holbury near Southampton, who arrived on their VW-powered custom trikes in North Pole-style attire, dressed as an elf, reindeer, Christmas gift and Father Christmas. Taking the Best Dressed Family and Dog title were Tamara and Martin Andrews, from Ferndown near Bournemouth, who along with their Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Oscar were dressed in elf costumes. Lord Montagu presented all of the winning families with a VW cushion, special Beaulieu biscuits and Beaulieu bear key ring.
Sunday’s event (Nov 26) was the fourth Santa Run at Beaulieu which collected and delivered gifts for youngsters in hospital, as well as the doctors and nurses who work there.
Beaulieu continues to celebrate the festive season with a magical Victorian Christmas on December 9th & 10th, then 16th to January 1st. Palace House will come to life as the Montagu family, played by costumed actors, prepare for a Christmas pantomime in 1889 and visitors are invited to get on stage to be part of the seasonal tomfoolery. There will be carol singing and festive music, craft activities making Christmas cards and tree decorations and a Christmas tree in every main room of Palace House. For photo opportunities, see the sleigh and wicker reindeer and life-size gingerbread house and marvel at one of the largest decorated Christmas trees in the New Forest.
For tickets or more information see www.beaulieu.co.uk/events/victorian-christmas/ or call 01590 612345. Beaulieu is open every day except Christmas day from 10am-5pm, while on the weekends of December 9th - 10th and 16th - 17th Palace House will be open until 6pm.