Vandals target Smiley Sam in egg attack

Luton's famous Smiley Sam has survived a callous egg attack which deprived sick Keech Hospice patients of vital donations.

Wednesday, 28th December 2016, 6:00 am
Updated Thursday, 29th December 2016, 3:23 pm
Smiley Sam
Smiley Sam

The town’s famous Christmas train was visiting excited children and families down Carlton Crescent last Wednesday (December 21), when the festive team were the victims of a nasty, surprise egg onslaught.

Smiley Sam’s journey had to stop immediately, as the food hit a volunteer as well as the car which pulls the train, meaning the team had to return to the hospice for safety, unable to continue their Christmas mission.

Lorna Chinnock, head of marketing and communications at Keech Hospice, said: “Wednesday night was a disappointing, isolated incident.

“A few eggs were thrown and a couple hit the car, while one volunteer was hit in the face by an egg, who I must stress is fine.

“The collection was stopped straight away, as the safety of our staff and volunteers is paramount.

“We don’t know where the eggs were thrown from - or who threw them - and would like to apologise to the residents who missed out on Smiley Sam - we’ve also lost out on vital donations for very sick children and adults.”

Smiley Sam has been spreading Christmas cheer to Luton residents for over 10 years and the team consists of a volunteer to play Santa and a group of eight volunteers who walk round with collection buckets.

Last year, Smiley Sam covered 1,300 miles and the team completed over 1,000 hours of volunteering.

Over £37,000 was raised for Keech Hospice in 2015, with its CEO, nurses, HR, and marketing teams all taking it in turns to collect funds with Father Christmas.

Smiley Sam started his 2016 evening visits on November 26, but egg attacks have not been his only worry!

Lorna said: “A couple of weeks ago, all our eight volunteers for the night went down with a sickness bug.

“We had to put out an emergency call out on Facebook and eight new amazing volunteers turned up!

“Luckily, Smiley Sam has never been attacked by eggs before - normally Father Christmas just gets a lot of mince pies and hugs and kisses from the children. Smiley Sam is like Luton’s answer to America’s Coca Cola truck!

“We are not going to let this dampen our spirits! Onwards and upwards!”

Smiley Sam’s last visit was to Stopsley on Christmas Eve, while angry residents took to Facebook page, Spotted Luton, to post about the egging incident.

One person claimed: “I can’t believe what I have just witnessed. I was in Carlton Crescent and saw the Keech Cottage Santa train being attacked with eggs and other projectiles. One of the volunteers even got hit in the face. What an absolute disgrace a small few are.”

Another posted: “As a volunteer for Smiley Sam I’m absolutely disgusted with this behaviour. All the volunteers love to go out with Smiley Sam and Santa to collect for a worthy cause.

“Many have been touched by the hard work and dedication that all the staff give to patients - I hope this does not deter people from volunteering and hope all who took part are OK.”

Keech Hospice provide hospice care for adults and children with life-limiting and terminal illnesses, looking after residents across Milton Keynes, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire.