‘Santa Rod’ has packed more than just Christmas presents and blankets into his aging Land Rover for his latest mercy mission to Bosnia.
The 76-year-old aid worker has found space for bag after bag of police issue boots!
Rod Howat, who was born in Oldham and owned businesses in Tameside and now lives in Glossop, said: “A friend told me that the police were buying new boots (for its officers) and didn’t want the ones they are using.
“We were glad to have them, they are in really good condition.
“Winters in Bosnia are very bad with lots of snow.
“They will be really welcomed by the people we help.”
Rod set off from Glossop to catch a ferry from Dover on Tuesday morning.
Ahead of him was a multi-thousand mile drive across Europe to a township near Tuzla where hundreds of people were eagerly waiting to see him.
But with just days to the off it was touch and go whether his latest mercy mission would even go ahead.
Rod’s Land Rover, which has more than one million miles on the clock, was having problems that would need costly parts and hours of labour to fit them.
Thankfully Rod had a friend at Fairways Motors on Arundel Street, Glossop.
He said: “Alex the owner has helped me in the past, he is a tremendous person.
“He worked well into the night to fit the parts and did not charge for his time.
“Without Alex I would not have been able to go to Bosnia.”
Rod’s ‘sleigh’ is crammed with presents for pitifully poor Bosnian children, plus blankets to keep their families warm in the shacks they call home.
As soon as he arrives in the scattering of villages he will visit friends, who have become more like family.
Then, with Christmas fast approaching, the man they call ‘Santa Rod’ because of his 20 years of charity work, will drive through the snow to deliver the presents lovingly given by people in Glossop and Tameside.
So you see, there is a real life Father Christmas after all.