The amazing girls spreading Christmas spirit along the streets of Teesside. 15 people, 9 nights, 2 trucks & 1 idea, to give the people of Teesside a December to Remember and raise money for local charity, Zoe’s Place.

A local group of girls have shown their true Teesside Spirit this month by spreading some much needed joy and festive spirit along the streets of Teesside. Some of you will have already seen a large flashing truck gracing the streets of Middlesbrough over the past few weeks. With naughty grinch, Santa and his elves alongside it, seven lovely ladies set out to spread as much happiness as possible during these hard times and, in the process, have raised an astounding £5,625.96 for charity.

A December to Remember all started with an idea of spreading a bit of happiness. Nicola Horrigan decided a couple of months ago that she was going to surprise the children of her family and friends with a selection box, while dressed up as Santa to try and make up for the fact everyone’s had a hard year, but especially children.

Nicola then mentioned this to Rebecca Angus, who said she would also get involved and dress up as the Grinch; Rebecca is known for her wild movement and is a perfect Grinch. It was then that Carly Smith offered her support to drive them both, and make a little bit of a fuss.

As word got around, and the idea was cemented with a plan, it was found that this could be done on a bigger scale and would be a nice thing to do for the wider community and more importantly to help support a local charity which has definitely felt the impact of Covid. Zoë’s place is very close to everyone’s hearts in the local community. It’s a locally run charity with a nationwide impact. With the visits centred around spreading happiness to the children of Middlesbrough, it was only right that the charity chosen was one that also reflected this. Zoë’s Place was perfect!
A small team was formed to make this happen. As it grew, Lesley Thornburn got involved to help with organising, Jack Iley kindly donated the use of his works truck for a moving grotto and a crowd funding campaign began for selection boxes and chocolates to make this happen. This was when the group realised how much Teesside needed this, with members of the public and local businesses donating over 1600 selection boxes within two weeks!

Nicola Horrigan (Santa), Rebecca Angus (The Grinch), Lesley Thornburn (Elf) Carly Smith (Elf), Lana Simpson (Elf), Lauren Hamilton (Elf) and Stephanie Hartley, all gave up their spare time to make this work. In such a short space of time, this event went from visiting family and friends, to visiting 1000s of children on Teesside.

The initial plan was to visit the street of someone who had requested it, however it was soon understood that this wasn’t going to be possible. On night one (Friday 4th December) the plan was to visit Trimdon Avenue area, Hemlington, Acklam and Whinney banks. It was apparent very early on that this was going to have to be halved! Word got around and everyone was coming to the end of their road to see the moving grotto, Santa, the Grinch and the elves! This paved the way for what was about to come next.
The girls said every one of the visits have been amazing, adding, “Children have laughed so hard at the dancing elves and the ‘girl Santa’ or cried and run away from the naughty Grinch, who is known to chase children round the street. It hasn’t all gone to plan, our wider friendship group has had their fair share of jobs, coming to the rescue. Hannah Mcneice delivered selection boxes to the truck when it was running low. Joanne Adams, Lisa Bromyard and Whitney Mcfarthing wrapped the selection boxes when there were more delivered! Pizzas were delivered to one stop by Jack Iley and Lou McQuade, the Grinch gets very hungry! It was a total group effort to make this a success!”

Due to such popular demand, and to ensure all areas of Middlesbrough were visited, a local company, Auto Recovery Service, noticed the problems and reached out to help and donate the use of their truck and driver. So for the weekend of the 11th December, there were two Grotto trucks gracing the streets of Middlesbrough and providing some much needed entertainment and joy.

Lesley comments, “It’s especially heart-warming when you visit an area and families are struggling more than ever, but there is still such a sense of community spirit and everyone is so grateful. The generosity of the people of Teesside has been amazing and we couldn’t have done without them! The smiles on children’s and parents’ faces is the proof of this being a success. It’s gone from one idea from one person to now a team of 15 people and two vehicles. Everyone has come together to make this happen. The generosity and the happiness of this venture has sparked the fundraising in the next generation of our friendship group, with little Ellie Bromyard (aged 7) making her own reindeer food and selling it to passers-by to help raise the Zoe’s place funds that bit more! We couldn’t be prouder!”

Over a 10-day period all areas of Middlesbrough (and further) will have had a visit off this amazing venture! This is ALL for charity, a group of local girls, making personal sacrifices, juggling full time jobs and child care, who have felt the impacts of this year themselves, including bereavements, job losses and isolation. All with the sole aim of giving back and spreading a little bit of happiness – even for just ten minutes.
Hitting the roads of Teesside, raising so much money for an amazing charity and raising the community spirit is most certainly a December to Remember, one that will never be forgotten. Here at The Tees, we could not be more proud of these Teesside girls.

Well done to everyone involved.

To donate please click HERE:


Do you have a story, something to say or an idea for what we should cover on The Tees Online? Contact us at