A CHARITY champion taxi driver is hitting the road this weekend as part of a drive to rally support for a cause close to his heart.
Big-hearted Darren Murphy will be donning a Father Christmas suit during his shifts for Richmond Taxis on Friday and Saturday to boost the coffers of St Clare’s Hospice in Jarrow.
He is out to raise money for the Primrose Terrace hospice to thank it for the support it gave to his father during his battle with cancer.
The 31-year-old, who lives in Jarrow with partner Cheryl Mitchell, 32, has already got into the Christmas spirit by putting on his beard and red-and-white suit to collect cash in King Street, South Shields.
Now, he will be urging customers to offer an extra yuletide tip when they jump in his festive cab.
Mr Murphy’s father, Thomas, died at the age of 62 in January, but his family are grateful for the hard work and dedication of the St Clare’s team.
Mr Murphy said: “I am going to be wearing the Santa suit during my shift on Friday, and I am working all day Saturday.
“I have already been out in King Street with a collection tin provided by the hospice.
“I will have a collection tin in the taxi, and all tips from customers will go St Clare’s.
“My dad was in St Clare’s from September to October last year. The care and support he got was fantastic.
“He was suffering from pancreatic cancer and was discharged so he could spend his remaining days at home.
“I wanted to do something to thank the charity, and with Christmas coming up, I thought dressing up as Santa would be a good idea.”
The Santa suit has already proved a big hit with Mr Murphy’s children Kalli, eight, Kaiden, five, and seven-week-old Alfie.
Mr Murphy added: “The children have seen me in the suit, and they think I am Father Christmas.
For more information on the hospice, visit www. stclareshospice.co.uk