Northern Ireland

Credit cards no problem as Black Santa stages 39th charity sit-out

The Very Reverend John Mann is starting the Black Santa sit-out Image copyright Church of Ireland
Image caption The Very Reverend John Mann is preparing for his fifth Black Santa sit-out

Belfast's Black Santa is moving with the times outside St Anne's Cathedral.

Money will be gratefully accepted by the cathedral dean, the Very Rev John Mann.

But credit and debit cards can also be flashed - the gadget is in place to make your transaction a smooth one.

The traditional Christmas vigil was started in 1976 under Dean Sammy Crooks and millions have been raised since then.

Dean Jack Shearer, who died in 2001, was initially dubbed the Black Santa by the media in the 1980s.

This was because of his distinctive black warm woollen clothing... and the name caught on with the public.

This is the 39th sit-out and it begins later on the cathedral steps.

It is Dean Mann's fifth sit-out.

"Like many another annual event it never seems like a year, but the gloves and hat, cloak and scarf are ready," he said.

"Sadly, Florence who knitted the scarf especially for my first sit-out in 2011 is no longer with us, but I will think of her and her kindness as I wind it around my neck (about three times!) to keep out the wind and rain."

Dean Mann will stand on the steps of St Anne's, come rain, hail or snow, every day until Christmas Eve and will be supported by members of the Cathedral Chapter.

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