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The Real Santa Experience: A Legacy of Joy, Resilience, and Community Spirit

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In 2010, The Real Santa Experience came to life as a collaborative effort with the Carrickfergus Community Charity (CCC). Comprising three passionate individuals—Rab Stewart, Rab Williams, and Mike (Yorkie) Veck—this local group aimed to make a positive impact in their community. Little did they know that their journey would be marked by both triumphs and heartaches, leaving an indelible mark on the town of Carrickfergus.


The trio orchestrated a series of fundraising events that ranged from the invigorating January New Year’s Day Sea Swim to the thrilling Dragon Boat Race in Carrick Harbour. One of their most cherished initiatives involved Santa Claus making appearances in various events, spreading joy with a newly purchased sleigh. These events not only brought the community together but also raised funds for charitable causes, creating a sense of unity and shared purpose.

However, tragedy struck in 2013 when Mike (Yorkie) Veck passed away due to suicide. The loss of a dear friend and contributor had a profound impact on the remaining members, leading to the dissolution of CCC. Despite this setback, the spirit of community service and dedication endured.

In 2011, The Real Santa Experience continued its mission by conducting numerous street visits around Carrickfergus, raising funds for various small charities in Northern Ireland. The tangible joy and happiness witnessed not only on the faces of children but also on adults served as a testament to the positive influence the organization had on the community.

The subsequent years saw The Real Santa Experience expanding its support to events such as the Belfast Santa Dash and the Carrickfergus Light Switch-on, bringing delight and warmth to participants and spectators alike. The organization’s main goal is clear: to provide a charity-raising platform that delivers an enjoyable, memorable, and believable experience for everyone involved.

In December 2014, The Real Santa Experience entered a new chapter by joining forces with Lea Vaughan and Forest Fitness. With Lea taking on a significant role in the organization’s management, and Steve Veck continuing the legacy of the original trio, the commitment to maintaining CCC’s achievements remained steadfast.


Now, in 2023, The Real Santa Experience stands as robust and resilient as ever. The organization looks forward to hosting a myriad of events leading up to Christmas, continuing its tradition of spreading joy and raising funds for local charities in Northern Ireland. As they invite the community to join them in this endeavour, The Real Santa Experience remains a beacon of hope, resilience, and community spirit. Together, let us contribute to their mission of making a positive impact on the lives of those in need.

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