A Shropshire grandfather could be Britain’s longest serving Father Christmas after handing out gifts for nearly half a century.
Ray Hulse, 67, from Bridgnorth, has been playing Santa Claus since he was just 18-years-old – meaning he’s been spreading festive joy for 49 years.
He created his first grotto at a simple Ford garage – with people coming from far and wide to offer Santa their Christmas wish list.
“I started out there,” said Mr Hulse. “Then I did one in a scout hut and it just grew from there. At first, I had to borrow a costume. It soon took off and became so popular that I had my own costume made.
“But it’s got better and better since then. I’d raise money for the Church of England’s waifs and strays, then I started to do it for other charities.
“I wouldn’t like to guess how much I’ve raised down the years, but I imagine it must be around £50,000.”
As the years rolled on, Mr Hulse took his role as Father Christmas more seriously. He built his own sledge and put the registration plate Santa 1 on it.
But one thing that hasn’t changed over five decades is the feeling he gets when he dons the famous outfit and says “ho ho ho”.
“The magic is in the expressions that you see on the kids’ faces,” he said. “That’s the reward.
Mr Hulse has no plans to slow down and says that, as long as his reindeer are fit and healthy, he’ll be flying through the skies.
by Arthur Furrowfield + Dr. Vince