On 21st December, John Dalzell turns 81 years old, and he will celebrate the same way he has done for the last 31 years by sitting in his trailer on Hill Street Newry marking his 31st year fundraising for Southern Area Hospice.
For over 30 years John Dalzell OBE has dedicated his time to sitting out and collecting money for Southern Area Hospice in the run up to Christmas – usually in the coldest weather when almost everyone else is buying and wrapping Christmas presents. He has now gathered a whole team to assist him, known as the “Sit-Out Team” and together they collect every Christmas across Newry – while John retains his usual spot in his infamous trailer on Hill Street, Newry. As time progresses, Johns Sit-Out duration has also lengthened, with his plans to sit out this year for almost two weeks.
John has been a part of Christmas in Hospice for so long it is almost impossible to think of it without him in his red suit on Hill Street. John is really looking forward to starting this year saying,
“I really don’t know where the years have gone, they have flown by and now I really cannot imagine Christmas without collecting for the Hospice. Many people thought I would stop last year when I was 80 – but I have no notion of it. I will be there every Christmas for as long as I am able, to help the local people who need the Hospice.
Last year we had the big milestones of my 80th birthday and the team celebrating 30 years of the Sit-out and I wondered how we could beat that. Then I realised this year is special too because it’s another year where I am fit to continue and I know that the money we raise will really help the Hospice, and at the end of the day that’s what it’s really all about.
Some year I won’t be able to do it – but hopefully that’s not this year! So, if you see me or my team about the town give us a shout – when it’s cold and wet you are what keeps us going. Looking forward to seeing you all at Christmas”.
John’s 31st consecutive Sit-Out will take place at its usual spot in Marcus Square on Hill Street, Newry where his familiar trailer will be stationed from 10th – 24th December from 8am until 5pm each day. He continues to put extra pre-cautions in place this year, such as putting extra Perspex on the trailer and obtaining a contactless card machine. Fundraising Officer for the Hospice James McCaffrey who works with John and his team said,
“I have known John some years now and it is no surprise to me that he has decided to continue with his wonderful Sit-Out for yet another year. John and his dedicated Sit-Out team are an incredible example of the spirit of giving at Christmas. The amount of time and effort that they put into this collection for the Hospice each year is truly amazing, and it is an honour to work alongside them. Last year, John surpassed his target of £2million raised for our cause. On behalf of all the patients and their families and friends who have been touched by our services, I would like to sincerely thank John and his team, and everyone who continues to support them. Although the Sit-Out takes place from the 10th-24th December, John works all year round to ensure it happens and this year more than ever, he has overcome extra obstacles so that we don’t lose out on the substantial amount he raises”
As well as John’s Sit-Out on Hill Street, collections will take place around the town at Fiveways Shopping Complex, The Quays Shopping Centre and B&Q. So please keep an eye out for them when you are in town. John also loves a bit of “craic” and company to keep him warm on Hill Street so do not be a stranger if you are passing by! He often reminisces on the hundreds of children that he took to school on his bus and delights when they approach him at the trailer now as adults with fond memories of his kindness. John will celebrate his birthday on Wednesday 21st December and has invited people from far and wide that know John, to come along and wish him a ‘Happy Birthday’. There will be food and music on the day!
If you would like to donate to this Appeal in aid of Southern Area Hospice Services please visit John’s Sit Out on Hill Street or to one of his collectors around the town, donate online: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/johndalzell22 or send your donation to: SOUTHERN AREA HOSPICE SERVICES, ST JOHN’S HOUSE, COURTNEY HILL, NEWRY, BT34 2EB. Donations can also be made over the phone by calling James on 028 302 67711 or returning your mailing letter.
Good Luck John!!