A ‘devastated’ Scout group is facing a bleak Christmas after being dropped from a garden centre’s grotto - a key fundraising opportunity for the organisation.
Wyevale Garden Centre, that runs Blooms Garden Centre on the Straight Mile, Rugby, has decided to out-source this year’s grotto helpers, but said the Scouts were welcome to use the centre for other fundraisers, such as bag packing.
Last year a record 2,100 children visited the festive grotto, with the Scouts gaining £2.40 from each £7 entrance fee.
The Grotto funds, along with bucket collections, amounted to £7,000 of funding for the Scouts, an amount that group leader Tony Marsella said will be hard to find elsewhere.
“This was a heartless decision,” said the 5th Rugby (Newbold) Scout Group Leader.
“All we can surmise is that the sub-contracted company saw the fantastic results over the last few years and decided that it was one that was worth taking over purely for financial reasons.
“The Scouts also put in a lot of time actually building the grotto each year with fully qualified builders and electricians and were fully insured, so we simply can not understand why this cruel decision was made so heartlessly.
“The older Scouts and Explorer Scouts really enjoyed working in the grotto, making each and every visit to Santa extra special for the child and their parents and guardians.
“The Scouts are devastated they wont be doing it again this year.”
Mr Marsella added: “The Scout Leaders want to make it clear to local people, who plan to visit the wonderland this year, that it is not the Scouts running it and that the now increased charge of £8 per child and £1 for each adult (over two attending) will be going directly to the company and not the local charities or the Scouts.”
A Wyevale Gardens Centre’s spokesperson said: “We take our role as a member of the local Rugby community very seriously.
“We always host Christmas family events within the garden centre and the involvement of the local Scout Group is something that we and our customers appreciate and enjoy.
“This year is no different, but instead of running the grotto we have asked the Scout Group to get involved in different activities.
“We know how important fundraising is to them and we’re keen to make sure we support them as best we can.”