Santa finds an elfy way to earn a living

PUBLISHED: 07:04 15 June 2006 | UPDATED: 09:27 24 May 2010

'Santa' shows off his brown beard.

'Santa' shows off his brown beard.

A DAD who has been voted the best Father Christmas in Europe has to dye his famous white beard to keep his identity a secret. Santa Claus, as he would like to be known, has worked as Father Christmas in Weston for more than 25 years. He colours his white

A DAD who has been voted the best Father Christmas in Europe has to dye his famous white beard to keep his identity a secret.Santa Claus, as he would like to be known, has worked as Father Christmas in Weston for more than 25 years. He colours his white beard brown between January and November to avoid being spotted.Santa said: "I dye my beard during the year and then let my white beard return for the Christmas rush."I started doing it years ago after children kept challenging me when they saw me out and about."My son used to think I was the real Father Christmas but I had another job during the rest of the year - after I dyed my beard."Weston's Santa was voted the best Father Christmas in Europe in 1999 and featured in a TV documentary in Lapland.He took on the role of Father Christmas because he thought he could do better than the Santas his eight children had visited.His experience is so valuable that he has been running courses at Weston College for wannabe Father Christmases for the last five years.The classes teach student Santas how to deal with screaming children, the history of Father Christmas and make-up and costume tips.Another course is run for 'elves' who want to act as Father Christmas' helpers during the busy holiday season. Diplomas are presented to students who successfully complete the 24-hour course.Santa said: "I was not impressed with the Father Christmases my children saw so I decided to have a go myself."Everyone who takes part in the course is taught the same history so there's no inconsistencies between the stories told to the children."Everyone who passes the necessary police checks can join and we've even had a 6ft 2in elf.

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