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Gloucestershire Business News

Santa Specials set for record-breaking year

Where: Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway

When: Throughout December (selected dates)

The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway's Santa Specials are set to break records again as ticket sales gather pace with only a few weeks to go before the first 'Santa Specials' depart for the North Pole.

The season gets under way from the weekend of December 1 with more than 70 trains scheduled to take excited youngsters and their families to meet Father Christmas. More than half of seats are already taken while some are already fully booked.

But the special steam trains from Cheltenham Racecourse to the North Pole (at Winchcombe) will begin on Sunday, November 25, with a very special steam train for around 65 children supported by charities Winston's Wish, Acorns Children's Hospice Trust and Riding for the Disabled. This train leaves Cheltenham Racecourse at 11am and is already fully booked.

This is an initiative of the railway's steam locomotive department and enthusiastically supported by the Santa Special team of volunteers.

Steam locomotive department volunteer Chris Blake, who is spearheading the special train, says: "We bring such a lot of delight for children throughout December but many miss out from the opportunity to enjoy something like this because of severe illness, disability or a family bereavement.

"It is the fifth year we have done this and it brings such a huge amount of pleasure to these special youngsters. It makes a real difference not just to their lives but ours too."

Colin Fewell, the railway's volunteer commercial director, said: "We expect to carry over 10,000 people on our trains this December. Many are already sold out but there are still some seats available.

"I'm overwhelmed by how popular our Santa Specials are. We simply can't run any more trains - if we could I'm sure we would fill them too!"

Over 45 steam trains will run right up to Christmas Eve. They start from Cheltenham Racecourse every weekend up to Christmas as well as daily from Thursday, December 20, to the North Pole where everyone gets an opportunity to meet Santa in his specially converted railway carriage while youngsters each receive a quality gift.

In addition, Santa will be travelling on a diesel railcar service from Toddington station along the line towards Broadway as far as Laverton.

Free refreshments are offered to travellers at Winchcombe including hot mince pies which are made locally to a special recipe for the railway.

Full details of the services, ticket availability and how to book are on the railway's website at www.gwsr.com 

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