Santa Day

Santa arriving – sleigh courtesy of Belper Rotary

Early Sunday morning and the ferocious weather of Saturday has slightly abated. The two marquees are still standing.

The wind is still stormy and the windmill sails are rattling at us. The helpers are arriving and final preparations are made.



Santa is due at 11.00 but families are already arriving in spite of the windy and chilly weather. People are so loyal to the mill.

Santa is spotted at the Chesterfield Road gate. There’s excitement in the air as he approaches and we can already hear his bell and the resounding ‘Ho, Ho, Ho’.

Frances Meredith and Vera Bridge in the shop where Santa tickets and other purchases were handled.,

Down from his sleigh – organised by Belper Rotary – he is greeted by his chief helper at the mill, Lynn, who escorts him to his decorated grotto inside the ancient mill.

A final wave at the door and only those with the numbered tickets will now be able to see him. Another helper, Monica, appears at the door, and it is she who will organise entry into the grotto.

Wine or Water with Hannah & Sarah Castledine

Festive music can be heard from inside the mill, and outside we are likewise treated to festive music.

The mill, of course, is a hive of activity with Santa talking to and giving presents to the excited children.  However, there is more activity in the marquees, in the Undercroft next to the Shop, and in the Shop itself, run on this very busy day by Frances and Vera.

Name the Bear (Jenny Land) and Hamper Raffle (Jan Pilkington)

In the marquee Mary and Brian have been busy warming up the Mulled Wine and unwrapping the mince pies, all so welcome on such a cold morning.

But where would a Santa Event be without a big raffle, and a Hamper Raffle? The mill volunteers, David and Jenny with Jan, are offering these and a Name The Bear competition, al0ong with two Tombolas. For the little ones there is an ‘Everything 20p Box’, run by Andrew, who is also keeping an eye on decorative and festively lit bottles, which would brighten up any room.

Clutching a ‘Golden Bottle’ prize is Esmae, seen in the photo with her grandmother Julie and younger sister, Amber. They also won the pictured hamper

The Wine Or Water game, organised by Hannah and Sarah, had two great surprises. As well as the bottles with wine or water, there was a bottle of whisky and a Golden Bottle, which was a hamper they had prepared. The winner was Esmai Goodall, seen in the photo with her mum and younger sister. Braving the cold outside was Gill, mum to Hannah and Sarah, meeting and greeting with a basket of sweets for the children.

And then in the Undercroft Pete and Patricia were offering activities for the children: colouring and drawing and the Marble Game, similar to Bagatelle – always a favourite. To add to the fun and atmosphere there was our favourite Burger Van and it was definitely an ‘Eat a Burger Day’.

Mary & Brian Naylor with mince pies and mulled wine

There was plenty for everyone while waiting to see Santa. Above all, there was a great festive atmosphere, and our thanks go to the families that trusted in us and came in spite of the challenging weather.

Santa saw over 150 children and, some time after 3 o’ clock,  he said goodbye to his last young visitor.

Tilly-Meg Churchman of Belper, aged 6, with Santa

But Santa had made a special promise to Evie, which he now kept. Evie had been coming to see Santa every year, but because she was poorly with COVID, she couldn’t come this year, and so Santa paid a special quick visit to Evie in Heage as he left Heage Windmill. They waved to each other through the window.

Get well soon Evie from Santa and all your friends at the windmill.

Tim C and Anthony were Duty Millers and Tim L, definitely, was ‘Man Of The Match’ – Santa!