Father Christmas arrived early at a Teesside hospital,thanks to the delivery of a new Santa’s grotto made by students at Redcar & Cleveland College.
Students from the College’s Built Environment and Art departments made the elaborate grotto to add a bit of sparkle and cheer to the main corridor on the ground floor of Redcar Primary Care Hospital.
The design was created by eight-year-old Izzy Duquesnay, who won a competition at Riverdale Primary School in Redcar to design a Santa’s grotto fit for the big man himself. The competition was sponsored by the hospital’s PFI partner Sir Robert McAlpine.
Using a cereal box, material, stickers, wrapping paper and glitter, she created the perfect model grotto, which was then copied exactly by students at the College, who created a life-size version.
Izzy was there to meet the students and see the unveiling of the grotto as Santa and his reindeer arrived to take up his seat.
Izzy, from Redcar, said: “I was really shocked to win the competition, but I had a lot of fun making the model.
“I can’t believe the real grotto is exactly the same as mine. It looks brilliant. I’m really pleased with the way the students have done it. It’s been great to meet Santa too. I’m getting very excited for Christmas.”
Donna Walker, Facilities Co-ordinator at Robertson Facilities Management, which runs the helpdesk and looks after maintenance of the hospital building, got in touch with the College to ask if it could help.
Last year, students built a sleigh for Santa to travel on around the hospital wards, but this year Donna felt he needed a grotto to meet the children in.
Keith Smith, Redcar & Cleveland College’s Head of Skills, said: “We have been only too happy to help Redcar Hospital get into the Christmas spirit again this year by providing patients and visitors with their very own Santa’s grotto.
“Izzy provided us with an excellent model to work from. Our Construction department mapped out the design and built it, the art students created the decorations and then the painting and decorating students brought it to life with colour.
“They have all worked very hard, but it has been fun. We hope the community enjoys it.”
Student Amber Smith, 19, from Carlin How, who is studying painting and decorating, said: “Working on the grotto was great because it was something a bit different and we were able to paint it really bright colours. There was a lot of detail in Izzy’s design, which we copied with stencils and other illustrations, but I hope she is pleased with it. It’s been a great joint effort.”
Donna said that judging by the queue of children waiting to visit Santa in the new grotto, it was a huge hit.
“Izzy designed a fabulous grotto and the students have done remarkably well to pull it all together so well,” said Donna. It is extremely professionally finished and looks exactly as Izzy intended.
“We’re very grateful that so many different departments at the College gave their time to work on it. We didn’t imagine it would be so good. It was difficult to pick the winning design at Riverdale Primary School, but I think we definitely chose the right one. It has been brought to life beautifully.”
The grotto was unveiled during a Christmas fundraising night at the hospital, which raised £1168 for local charities.