Black Santa's Diary
Groups raise money in all sorts of different ways. A school non-uniform day at Inchmarlo, a sending round of the hat at an office party at the Probation Board, and, for at least the second year the staff of the Tourist Board have not sent Christmas cards to each other, but have pooled the money and dropped it in the barrel.
These three alone have contributed more than £600 and many others send in cheques - schools, offices, shops and clubs. Taxis, buses, delivery vans, bin lorry drivers are unfailingly generous. I can't mention everyone, but for donations large or small - thank you. Visitors are always welcome, too. Last Saturday, 30 Honda bikers roared up to the steps and delivered a collection with waves and hugs, Santa suits and horns. A few photos and they were off.
The Cathedral Quarter Community Choir, which rehearses in the cathedral hall each Wednesday, sang carols for an hour or so.
The Lord Mayor was with us yesterday morning, just after the heavy rain stopped, and brought us a little sunshine, chat and a donation to the fund.
There are lots of children about now, too, giving a little of their pocket money, then nipping into the cathedral to see the crib.
These are good days, happy days; days full of expectation and joy. The Black Santa Fund 2015 is not far short of £100,000 as we begin today. This represents the combined efforts of many people and is the opportunity for meetings and conversations, too.
In the quiet moments, we look around. There is always something to see. A pied wagtail flits around our feet picking up remains of mince pies.
We were in clover yesterday, with the kind gift of a tray of profiteroles. They didn't last long.
- The Very Rev John Mann is Dean of Belfast