CHRISTMAS CHEER: Santa gives Emerald drivers two thumbs up.
CHRISTMAS CHEER: Santa gives Emerald drivers two thumbs up.

Summer Santa brings holiday hope

EMERALD drivers might have noticed a red-sleeved hand waving from the corners of busy streets as they made the morning trip to work recently.

It is the fourth year Peter McDowell has donned the bearded costume to create a little Christmas cheer and promote the importance of mental health.

He calls himself the Summer Santa.

“It’s about giving a bit of cheer to people, a bit of hope,” Mr McDowell said.

“People like the idea of Christmas and having Santa Claus on the main street. There’s no other place in Australia where you can see that.”

But Mr McDowell has noticed something different this year, and it is a problem he is determined to rectify.

“There’s a lot of hope missing,” he said.

“People are sad for work-related reasons, economics, relationship breakdowns. It’s serious.

“I’ve been into about 10 shops and about eight of them are excited, and the other two are just sad. You can pick it up.

“They need to know that there are services out there.”

He recounted his experience with illness and the community support he received.

“I know what mental health is like,” he said.

“I ended up in hospital with depression and police came around the next morning to feed my dog.”

Summer Santa urged those who were struggling to see their GP to discuss their health, and offered to visit those with special needs.

“It’s the highlight of my year, being Santa and sharing hope with people,” he said.

Keep an eye out for Mr McDowell from about 7—8.30am on the corner of Clermont and Borilla St.

If you need help, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.


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