This Christmas Bournemouth’s Lower Gardens play host to an array of festivities including Santa’s Grotto. John Hawkings, 70, plays Santa Claus spreading the Christmas cheer amongst children and families.
Otherwise known as ‘Santa John’, he told us what most attracted him towards the role of Santa: “I just love giving, it’s what Christmas is all about isn’t it?”
The Grotto first opened on the 22nd of November and will run up until Christmas Eve. To open it, Santa and his merry elves joined together in a parade. They had a queue so long the Grotto had to be opened an hour longer to accommodate all the children wishing to see him.
When asked what the most memorable thing a child had said, Santa John said: “We had a child this morning called Alfie, and Alfie was 4, just 4, and he named all the reindeer and that was amazing, that’s the first child that’s ever happened to”.
Schoolgirl Sophie* won a local school competition to name Santa’s reindeer. As a prize she got to help in the Christmas festival parade.
Sophie had recently faced a grave loss and her mother wrote a letter thanking Santa for his help in cheering her up. She said Sophie “now considers herself a close personal friend of Santa”.
“What a better gift at Christmas than to put a smile back on a little girls face – now that is a bit of Christmas magic”
Santa John emphasised the importance of making Christmas a magical experience for the entire family.
When asked if there was anything he disliked he responded with “no, nothing at all” but then quickly retracted his statement claiming “yes there is actually, keeping the beard in tip-top condition!”
If you’d like to visit Santa this Christmas click here
*name changed for privacy[portfolio_slideshow id=221126]
Read the full interview with Santa John here
Find out more about this Christmas’ festivities here