Wigan four-legged fund-raiser unveils ambitious Christmas programme
Monty the Newfoundland dog and his owner Mark Sanders are pulling out all the stops in December to support children's hospice Derian House.
Monty and Mark, from Hawkley Hall, are on Facebook every evening to raise money for the charity.
Monty has become something of an online star in recent years with an annual light-hearted Christmas poem and a series of children’s books as well as appearances in schools and for charities.
The social media videos will culminate on Christmas Eve with the unveiling of the new Monty Dogge festive poem, the sixth one to be written, but before that there will be a host of seasonal activities including the reciting of previous verses, readings from the books and giveaways.
There will also be appearances on camera from Monty’s fellow fund-raising Newfoundland Cookie, with the footage being a mixture of pre-recorded videos and live streams.
Mark said: “We did the first Christmas poem as a bit of fun but people really liked it.
“We then thought that rather than just give it away we would ask people to donate to charity.
“It has got bigger and bigger every year. Nobody has had a particularly great year this year so we thought we would do a whole month of poems, stories and lots of different things.
“Obviously people will be able to see Monty and Cookie in the videos and I’m going to dress up as Father Christmas, an elf and things like that.
“Hopefully we will get round to some Q&As too if people want to know a bit more about the dogs.”
Mark spoke movingly about why the Chorley-based children’s hospice will be the beneficiary of the fund-raising month.
He said: “I’m a little bit in awe of the job the people at Derian House do.
“In awful times for people they create this absolutely amazing atmosphere of happiness.
“People who see it wonder how they do it.
“Everybody’s got something to moan about but you look at people in a situation like that and you think maybe it’s not too bad after all.
“Seeing the work of a children’s hospice makes that really hit home to everybody.
“We always throw the decision of which charities to support out to our supporters and everyone decided to go with just one charity this year.”
Mark has set an initial fund-raising total of £1,000 and admits it feels difficult asking for donations after the financial problems Covid-19 has brought.
However, after setting up the Facebook group which people have to join to gain access to the videos, hundreds of pounds have already been donated.
Mark says he is working on some special content for Monty’s generous fan club on the other side of the pond in the USA.
Monty’s youngest fans won’t be left out either, with plans for teatime storytelling sessions aimed at children.
The first video was posted on December 1. To find out more, visit www.facebook.com/groups/204393151294452/ or www.justgiving.com/fundraising/montydoggexmas
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