Share Your Santa Bus Stories!

2 months ago Mon 18th Dec 2023

The Santa bus and Santa bus team

20 years ago, In December 2003, Santa Claus was alerted by one of his elves to a newly formed partnership between Brighton & Hove Buses, Martlets Hospice and The Argus.

This partnership provided Santa Claus with his very own Santa Bus, enabling him to travel across Brighton & Hove spreading festive joy and cheer whilst helping to raise money for good local causes.

So before Christmas Eve, Santa put his reindeer on rest and travelled from the North Pole to his newly formed 'ice out station' at the bus company depot in Conway Street.

The partnership between the buses, Martlets and The Argus still continues 20 years on but has now expanded into one of Brighton & Hove's largest free events, with many more charities partaking each year. 

So for its 20th anniversary the Brighton & Hove Buses Santa Bus is now raising money for 20 local charities, over 20 nights and travelling 20 different routes to celebrate 20 years of Christmas giving.  

There have been so many wonderful Santa Bus experiences and stories from the last 20 years that we would like to celebrate by hearing some of your favourite moments!

One of the people who helped start up the very first Santa Bus was Elsa Gillio who, until her retirement in 2018, headed up The Argus Appeal for the Argus Newspaper. To this day Elsa still volunteers onboard the Santa Bus every year and was the original 'Chief Elf' 

Elsa shares one of her own #SantaBusStories in this video.

Elsa said: “Over the last 20 years the ethos of The Santa Bus has remained the same, spreading some festive joy to all whilst bringing Santa Claus to the people as not everyone can visit a local grotto. And all this whilst raising money for local good causes. So many people have a story to tell about the Santa Bus and this includes those who were once children themselves 20 years ago and who are now bringing their own children to see the Santa Bus. It would be really lovely to hear some of the Santa Bus stories that people have to tell.”

Ed Wills, Managing Director of Brighton & Hove Buses, added: “The Brighton & Hove Buses Santa Bus has become embedded as a main fixture into the cities annual Christmas Calander. Every year many of our own colleagues, along with other from local businesses, volunteer their personal time to keep the Santa Bus rolling. Every night as we travel across the city we are hearing so many wonderful stories from people of what the Santa Bus means to them personally and so we really welcome The Argus's campaign to bring some of these to life.”

Arron Hendy, editor of The Argus, added: “I see for myself how much joy the Santa Bus brings to our readers and it is fantastic to see Elsa still so heavily involved. Brighton and Hove Buses have been providing this joy for 20 years and they deserve a very big thank you for that. Many of us will remember seeing the bus in younger days and we want to hear your memories, how much you loved it then and now, perhaps with your own children?"

Head over to The Argus to share you story!