Third Sector's Christmas cracker

News that the Children's Society has broken the world record for knitting a Christmas stocking tops a selection of quirkier festive stories we present as a virtual Christmas present to Third Sector website visitors.

The Children's Society's record-breaking stocking
The Children's Society's record-breaking stocking

The stocking, which weighs three quarters of a tonne and is longer then three double-decker buses, is made of more than 6,000 hand-knitted squares sent in by supporters of the society and by members, staff and customers of the Co-operative Group. They raised more than £30,000 for the charity in sponsorship.

The stocking beats the previous world record length, set in Canada a few weeks ago. If the knitting had been done by one person, it would have meant two years' work without sleep, according to the Children's Society.

A mental health charity in Salford has had to withdraw its Christmas magazine after a relative of one of its beneficiaries objected to a humorous list of Christmas carols that it contained.

According to the This is London website, the top ten "Christmas Carols for the Mentally Disturbed" produced by Cromwell House mental health facility included We Three Kings Disorientated Are (for multiple personality disorder) Santa Claus Is Coming To Town To Get Me (for paranoia), Hark The Herald Angels Sing About Me (for narcissism) and and Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells (for obsessive compulsive disorder).

The magazine was produced by patients, but Zinette Camille, who has a family member at the facility, was not amused. "I could not believe what I was reading. I was angry that they could belittle people in that manner," she said.

However, a spokesman for mental health charity Sane was more relaxed. "While no one wants to cause offence, it would be a shame if people cannot poke a bit of fun at themselves, particularly at this time of year," he said.

The part of Scrooge is played this Christmas by the Performing Rights Society, which is threatening to fine a Wigan non-profit trust nearly £500 for performing carols that are not out of copyright.

According to the Wigan Today website, an officer of the copyright guardian also visited the historic Dam House in Astley, Manchester, last year and charged trustees £230 for a public performance licence because he thought customers in the public tea room might overhear copyrighted songs being played on the kitchen staff's radio.

Dam House trustee Elaine Hurst said: "We know the recording artists need to be paid for their work, but this is ridiculous."

A gang of youths in a North Yorkshire village also seem short on the festive spirit. They have pelted Santa with eggs and beer bottles four times during recent visits to Sherburn-in-Elmet as part of charity fundraising efforts by the local lions club.

The Elmet Lions Club is now considering by-passing the village during its nightly tour of the area. A spokesman told the York Press: "We are this year collecting for Yorkshire Air Ambulance, and so this worthy cause will also lose much-needed revenue because of mindless violence perpetrated by a few idiots who have nothing better to do than assault one of the best loved characters in the country.

"The trauma that must be felt by young children when they see Santa being pelted with eggs cannot be described."

A spokeswoman for North Yorkshire police said they were unable to escort Santa's sleigh, but officers would "call in on the route" in future.

The festive madness award must surely go to Southampton City Council, which has banned a local lollipop lady from wearing a turkey suit amid fears about health and safety.

Margaret Russell has been wearing novelty Christmas costumes for 20 years to raise money for charity. Her previous guises include an elf, a reindeer and a toy soldier, but council officers have ordered her to stay in her reflective uniform this year for insurance and legal reasons.

"The world's gone mad if you are no longer allowed to bring a little joy to the youngsters at Christmas," she told the Daily Mail.

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