‘I’ve been a Santa for 12 years – I don’t earn the big bucks but I do it for the joy’

A Santa, who has worked every Christmas for the past 12 years, has shared why he takes on the role of Kris Kringle – as well as revealed some of his favourite memories.

Santa Doug first joined the Ministry of Fun’s Santa School, the longest-running training school for professional Father Christmases in the UK, because he wanted to inspire joy in people.

The 58-year-old from Brighton has done it all – from visiting hospitals to photoshoots and even once climbed London’s iconic O2 arena.

The role may seem straightforward to some but it delves much deeper than what first meets the eye.

“Introducing a child to the joy of Christmas is a rare and special thing,” Doug told Needtoknow.co.uk.

“Who wouldn’t want to return to do it again and again?

“It’s the joy of other people – the fact that all ages light up when they see you.

“Everybody knows what Santa does; he gives gifts, reads children’s letters and lists of wishes.

“At another level, it’s quite complex.

“Santa’s costume is put together in a particular order, you have to be ready for surprises.

Picture credit: JAM PRESS

“Most of all, you have to be adaptable – all children are individuals.

“An overly cheery Santa may frighten a shy child, while a quiet Claus may bore an energetic one.”

Doug first got into being a Santa after a fellow performer suggested he might be a good fit.

And while he won’t share exact figures on how much he makes, Doug says he doesn’t do it for the money.

He said: “I leave the accounting down to Mrs Claus.

“I believe, though that this year’s accounts will find me in profit somewhat to the tune of 50,000 candy canes.

“As I’m a gentleman of a certain size, age and demeanour, a fellow performer suggested I might want to try for Santa School.”

Studying to be Santa involves learning about the history of St Nicholas and practising your “ho, ho ho”, along with workshopping grottos with elves.

Across his Santa career, Doug has some incredible experiences.

He said: “[My highlights include] being on top of the O2 building with a bunch of my fellow Santas.

“Seeing a deaf brother and sister sign their excitement to one and other (and me) in BSL.

“Having 50,000 children call out ‘Santa’ along Regent Street, working with Great Ormond Street Hospital and Hamleys.

“The giving and getting of gifts is a major part of the appeal, of course.

“It’s what I’m here for.

Picture credit: JAM PRESS

“Children can be so generous with their wishes– whether it’s for themselves or their loved ones.”

For any aspiring Santas, Doug offers some golden advice, including when you’ll be needed to spread Christmas cheer.

He added: “Remember that you’re just helping out the big man while he prepares for his sleigh ride.

“Don’t expect much work after the 24 December.

“That childlike part filled with wonder is the spark of Santa you share with others.”

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