We meet Father Christmas...

Father Christmas, photographed by Rachel Poulton
Father Christmas, photographed by Rachel Poulton
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When I was told that Father Christmas wanted to talk to me about his fundraising fun day for The Sussex Snowdrop Trust I immediately had a wardrobe panic – what does a girl wear to meet the world’s greatest giver of gifts?

Plumping for a suitably seasonal red dress, on arrival at Russells Garden Centre in Birdham, the location for Father Christmas’s special event, I was ushered into the restaurant. The great man was already there, tucking into chocolate brownies.

“Don’t tell Mummy Christmas you caught me munching cake,” he chuckled, brushing crumbs from his beard and passing me a whopping slice of Victoria sponge. “With so many mince pies to eat on Christmas Eve I try to avoid treats in November.”

Asked what brings him to Birdham, the famous twinkling eyes became suddenly serious.

“I am a great supporter of The Sussex Snowdrop Trust, an organisation that gives essential support to very poorly children and their families,” he explained. “Christmas is a special time, but when you’re ill it is hard to feel festive and jolly. Snowdrop children are very brave, so when I was asked to make a personal appearance at the Santa’s Festive Farmyard Fun Day on the last Sunday of November of course I said yes.”

Agreeing that it’s a busy time of year for him to be out of the workshop, Father Christmas explained that he will arrive in Birdham the night before the event.

“The South Downs can be devilishly tricky for sleigh landings so while we are here Rudolph and I will fly around Observer territory and do a few practice runs. I’ll also do a chimney inventory. Nowadays I use my magic key more often than entering houses via the sooty route, but it’s useful to know in advance which homes have chimneys.”

Declaring himself “tickled pink” by all that is planned for the charity fun day, with a beaming smile lighting up his rosy cheeks Father Christmas said:

“There will be a Living Nativity with miniature donkeys and other animals to pet and make friends with, as well as some delightful entertainment from The Penny Black Choir and singers from Inclusive Music and Movement. There’s a festive fancy dress compwetition for children at noon, food tasting, oodles of shopping opportunities and of course I’ll be there to give an early Christmas present to the good boys and girls.”

Taking his leave to do buy a few bits before heading back to the North Pole (“Mummy Christmas wants new tree decorations and a sturdy watering can”), I thanked him for his time and shyly handed over my wish list, assuring him that I had been a good girl all year.

He’s promised to see what he can do about popping George Clooney in my stocking…

Santa’s Festive Farmyard Fun Day: Russells Garden Centre, Birdham. Sunday, November 27, 10am – 3pm. Free entry; visitors will instead be asked to make a voluntary donation to The Sussex Snowdrop Trust.

www.russellsgardencentre.com