Santander's Secret Santa delivers the ultimate Christmas surprise
Jenson Button delivered a 'Secret Santa' Christmas surprise to the unsuspecting residents of his hometown of Frome in Somerset on Friday.
Billed to be switching on the town’s Christmas lights, Frome’s favourite son instead broke cover on a forensically planned and secretly executed plan to kick off the Christmas season in the Somerset market town in some considerable style with a live Formula 1 demonstration as JB took to the closed streets of the town in his Vodafone McLaren Mercedes F1 race car.
Stunned onlookers – who had only bargained on a glimpse of Jenson as he undertook a parade in an open top Mercedes SL65 V12 AMG – were instead treated to the town centre being transformed into the boulevards of Monaco, resounding to the noise and spectacle of F1 at close quarters.
Having conducted the ceremonial duties of switching on the Christmas lights and addressing the crowd, Jenson re-emerged in the cockpit of his McLaren. His demonstration was a masterclass of donuts and burn-outs as the short town- centre course resonated to the unmistakeable sound and sight of Formula 1 in all its brilliance.
Jenson said, "I’m amazed we managed to keep this quiet and surprise everybody – it has been weeks in the planning and as you know, we’re not very good at being quiet in F1. But it has been great to be part of a huge undercover operation, especially to deliver something so unexpected to my hometown. And I’ve driven a Formula 1 car in some fairly exotic locations in my time but nothing felt more surreal than making lots of noise on the streets I used to kick around on when I was a kid here. In fact, I am sure I saw my headmaster flash by, so no doubt I will be in trouble….again!"
Local resident Matthew Rae, 24, who works at The George Hotel said "Jenson’s our most famous resident and it always makes me proud that he came from here and took on the world and won. I hoped I might get a chance to say hello or get an autograph. Instead, we got a private Grand Prix here in the High Street. Now how many people can say that? This will be a Christmas I will never forget."
Having been born in Frome and attended Selwood Middle School in the town, Jenson retains close family links to the location, and the town has shown its affection for arguably its most famous resident with not just a Jenson Avenue, but also a Jenson Button Bridge across the River Frome.
Jenson’s street drive was the finale from a day of 'surprise and delight' appearances that Jenson made to officially launch Santander's Secret Santa promotion, providing customers with the opportunity to win seasonal prizes including Christmas hampers.
The Secret Santa promotion is running across Santander’s entire UK-wide branch network between Thursday 5 and Thursday 12 December where customers can enter to win a Christmas hamper prize draw. One winner per branch will be announced on Friday 13 December.
In addition, Santander is running a special competition via Facebook where 10 lucky people will win one of Hamleys top 12 toys every day from 1 – 12 December, and then on 13 December they will go into a special draw to win all 12.
Prior to arriving in Frome on Friday afternoon Jenson made an unannounced visit to the CLIC Sargent ward at the Royal Bath Hospital to deliver early Christmas presents to the children.
Visiting the Royal Bath Hospital was the first in a string of unannounced appearances that Jenson made to astonished and unsuspecting Santander customers across the local area, including the owners of The Old Manor Hotel on Trowle Common, one of many SMEs supported by the bank in the locality.
From there, JB spread some Christmas cheer by visiting the Trowbridge branch of Santander to formally launch the bank’s Secret Santa promotion across its entire branch network and on Facebook.
Jenson’s last stop before the street demonstration was to the homes of some of Santander’s customers in the local Trowbridge and Frome area. Many doors were opened by Santander customers to find a grinning JB on the doorstep bearing gifts!
Reflecting on a day of Christmas cheer, Jenson said, "It’s a special time of year and everyone has been so receptive to the surprises we have sprung on them today, which I guess is the spirit of Christmas in evidence! Personally, I’ve had a great day and it’s been great fun to bring some festive cheer home."