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Last Updated: Saturday, 25 December, 2004, 10:58 GMT
'Black Santa' counts charity cash
Black Santa
Dean Houston McKelvey began his sit-out on 17 December
Belfast's Black Santa has raised at least 180,000 in his annual Christmas sit-out for charity.

Dean Houston McKelvey sat outside St Anne's Cathedral for seven days until Christmas Eve, continuing a tradition started by his predecessors.

Dr McKelvey said a final total would be known in the next few days when they had finished counting the money.

A cheque for at least 10% of the total raised was presented to Christian Aid at a carol service on Christmas Eve.

Dean Houston first sat out for Christmas three years ago, following in the wake of his predecessor Dean Jack Shearer, who died in January 2001.

This is the 28th year of the appeal, which raises money for various Northern Irish charities and Christian Aid.

Dean Houston and his various helpers sat outside the cathedral in Donegall Street from 0845 to 1730 for seven days.

The charity vigil has raised a total of more than 2.8m since Dean Sammy Crooks first began the collection in 1976.

He was initially dubbed Black Santa by the media because of his distinctive clothing.

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