A CHRISTMAS tradition has returned to Witney as Santa and his sleigh tour the town for a good cause.

Voluntary organisation Witney Lions Club has embarked on its annual festive fundraising effort in aid of people and projects in need of support.

Dedicated members spent Saturday outside B&Q to kick off three weeks of Christmas Float collections, which will take the club all around the town.

On weekday evenings, Santa, Rudolph and a caravan-turned-sleigh blaring out seasonal carols will rock up in Witney, Ducklington and Long Hanborough.

This goes towards the club's Dream Scheme, which distributes £3,000 to initiatives and groups trying to make a difference in the community.

House-to-house collections will take place, while volunteers will give out hampers and grocery vouchers to those in need.

Phil Birkett, from Standlake, has been part of the Lions for 14 years and explained the importance of the float collections.

He said: "It's a big tradition for the Lions -we've been doing it for well over 30 years.

"Because it's now been going more than a generation, you're getting parents and grandparents who remember the sleigh from when they were younger.

"If it's a nice evening there can be hoards of children and people can come out on the street and start chatting away.

"Some people say they look forward to it every year."

The float collections, which are held in the daytime at weekends and from 6pm to 8pm during the week, take place most days.

Twenty members have spent the last few weeks preparing for the tradition and many will be flat out throughout the month.

Although these are long-established, the Dream Scheme is only in its third year.

Local organisations have until Friday, January 25 to submit an application for funding, with smaller amounts most likely to be approved.

The chosen recipients will be announced by the end of February 2019, with a ceremony at The Blue Boar, in Witney Market Square, marking the occasion.

Last year, seven projects and organisations received funding, including Witney Day Centre, the ATC Air Training Corps and Witney Woodland Volunteers.

To apply for an application form email dreamscheme@witneylions.org.uk, or for more information visit www.witneylions.org.uk