December 8 In the Press

Santa steps in to make couple’s Christmas dream come true at Santa’s Gatelodge

By Eleanor McGillie

It was a mix of jingle bells and wedding bells at this year’s annual Christmas spectacle when a 35-year-old man recruited the help of Santa Claus to help him get the ultimate Christmas gift.

Collie Johnston, 35, from Armagh Road, Newry told Santa that he wanted to surprise his girlfriend Debbie McLoughlin by proposing to her at Santa’s Gatelodge. But there was only one problem – he had no tickets.

So Santa being Santa pulled some magic strings and secured a family ticket on the Milford Express train which took the family of four straight to the Elf School on Friday night where they were entertained by tour elves before making their way into Santa’s House where there was certainly a surprise in store for Debbie.

Collie, a trainee manager at Haldane Fisher, concocted the entire proposal with the support of the iCare committee, the team of volunteers who organise the annual Christmas spectacle. So with elves and Santa all on standby, Collie was ready to get down on one knee.

Collie said: “It was fantastic. Debbie hadn’t a clue. She did wonder why there were more elves around than normal but it all became clear why.”

So with the children’s presents out of the way, Santa asked Debbie what she wanted for Christmas but she didn’t quite get the sofa she was asking for. Instead, Collie got down on one knee, produced a diamond ring and popped the question.

Santa’s House filled with a rapturous applause and a rendition of ‘Celebration’ when Debbie said ‘yes’. The couple left under a guard of honour formed by the elves!

Collie said: “We are all delighted. I had asked Debbie’s mum and dad for permission earlier in the week and they had given me their approval so it was all systems go. “Santa was great. He didn’t hold back in making this moment so special for us as a family. We have spent the weekend celebrating with family and friends and Debbie can’t stop looking at her ring. We are so grateful to everyone at iCare who organise Santa’s Gatelodge for allowing us to get engaged in this magical setting. It’s a great start to what will be a great Christmas.”

Mairead Mackle, Chief Executive of Homecare Independent Living, said: “Santa’s Gatelodge is a fundraising event where every penny from ticket sales goes to helping people in the communities in which we operate. Every quarter we ask the community to nominate someone who they would like to see granted an iCare Wish. The money from Santa’s Gatelodge funds the wishes which help so many individuals and families north and south of Ireland. “To make this year extra special we were all delighted to be able to make Collie and Debbie’s engagement one to remember. It was a pleasure to be part of such a special occasion.”


For further information contact Eleanor McGillie of MGMPR Ltd on 028 3756 9569 | 07709805379 | | Healthcare PR |Public Relations PR Northern Ireland | Public Relations PR UK | Brand Journalism Northern Ireland | Brand Journalism UK

Notes To Editor:

  • Homecare Independent Living is a national leader in homecare provision offering services to clients enabling them to live independently. Services include domiciliary care, peripatetic and floating support services, nursing and continuing care services and housing services. The company employs 1,200 people and has offices in Armagh, Belfast, Magherafelt, Ballymena, Sligo, Dundalk and Dublin. The company has its own charity, iCare, which uses the power of its people to create a better world. iCare organises Santa’s Gatelodge every year.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,