Santa arrives at his Hassocks grotto aboard an enormous lawnmower to greet special-needs children

Father Christmas will arrive at his grotto in Hassocks this morning (Wednesday November 15) by enormous Dennis motor mower, ready to welcome a party of special-needs children from a school in Burgess Hill.
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Two dozen pupils, aged six to 10, from Woodlands Meed have been invited to a preview and free charity visit to meet Santa at the South Downs Heritage Centre, ahead of its public opening at the weekend.

This year sees a brand new and permanent ‘luxury’ grotto for the Sussex-based Budding Foundation Sussex-based charity at the Hassocks museum. Entering through a magical toyshop, and meeting a life-sized snowman who sings a variety of Christmas songs, visitors will then be helped by an Elf to find the magic entrance to Santa’s Winter Wonderland: a hidden bookcase will open and lead through the grotto with many animatronic animals and elves, waterfalls plus a fantastic winter wonderland scene.

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Clive Gravett, founder of The Budding Foundation said: “As well as Wednesday’s special visit, we have a huge charity aspect to this year’s grotto, including free visits for 50 local nursery children; complimentary entry for five wheelchair-bound children with complex special needs from Downs View Woodingdean; free visits for young families housed by Brighton YMCA; an honorary welcome for 20 children with special needs from Heronsdale School Shoreham; special visits for disabled children supported by Kangaroos charity plus over 1,000 free tickets distributed by local charities, food banks, local councils, and to families with young carers.

“This enables those who cannot afford a visit to book with the mainstream visitors avoiding the stigma of coming on a special day,” said Clive.

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