A WASTE collector from Bournemouth is helping to bring festive cheers to the people of Bournemouth and Poole by converting his van into Santa’s truck.

Richard Arnold, nicknamed ‘The Rubbish Man’, has been joined by his family members to help hand out sweets to children across the conurbation from his truck, decorated with over 300 lights and blasting out Christmas songs.

He said: “I organically started doing it for the residents of West Howe but now we have branched out and are going a bit further afield now.

“I’ve been doing it because of this year we have been, especially for the kids. What sort of life have they all had this year?

“They haven’t been able to go out and see Father Christmas, so I thought why not bring Father Christmas to them?”

Richard, who dons an elf costume for his night drive-bys, has been joined by his mother Shirley Fletcher, who keeps him company in the cabin whilst collecting donations.

His brother Chris Arnold and nephew Freddy Stanley sit on the back of the vehicle and hand out sweets whilst wearing a Santa and elf costume, whilst Richard’s children Megan and Harry have also been helping with collecting donations.

He added: “We drive up the road at five mph so that people can come out and see us, but people have started waiting in the streets as they know our routes now.

“FDS Waste Service in Tower Park have been brilliant. A couple of days ago, the donated 60 children’s scooter and they have also given me £50 worth of sweets to hand out to children.

“Without people and businesses like these, this wouldn’t be possible.”

The group have also been collecting money for the Macmillan Caring Locally and, so far, Richard has helped to raise over £1,000 for the cancer unit in Christchurch, with more donations to be added.

Before he started his collections, Richard received a £210 donation by his neighbours. Now he has six full buckets of donations for Macmillan Caring Locally.

As his popularity has grown, thanks to pictures and videos shared on social media, Richard has been inundated with requests from residents for him to visit their neighbourhoods.

“I chose to collect money for Macmillan because my stepdad had cancer, his kids had cancer and my next-door neighbour has had cancer as well. Everyone had been affected by it or they know someone who has,” said Richard.

“I can’t take all the credit. I am the one driving the truck, but I wouldn’t be able to do it without my mum, brother and nephew as well.

“We have had some amazing donations so a big thank you goes out to everyone that has come out to see us and donated.

“If it has brought a smile to one child’s face, then it would have been worth it.”