Northern Ireland

Black Santa charity appeal nears its target of £200,000

Dean of St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast, John Mann
Image caption Dean of St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast, John Mann (left) braves the wind in Belfast

The winds may be blowing a gale but Storm Barbara has not dampened anyone's generosity.

The Dean of St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast, John Mann has said the annual Black Santa charity appeal is nearing its target of £200,000.

It is the sixth year the Dean has taken part in the sit-out.

He said he was overwhelmed by the public's response and that many charities will benefit as a result.

Image caption John Mann said he was overwhelmed by the public's response

"This is the best year so far, in terms of the amount we have collected.

"Yesterday was a bit bleak for a couple of hours as the storm came through but it wasn't as bad as we thought it might be."

"In January we figure out which charity is getting what. Mostly they are local community based charities.

"About 15% of the money also goes abroad for humanitarian work," he said.

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 40th sit-out .

Image caption St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast

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