A Coventry man reported to be the ‘real Father Christmas’ is hoping to raise thousands of pounds for charity when he makes his festive rounds in the city.
Paul Sharp, 63, has helped raise more than £10,000 as Father Christmas over the last four years by donating a portion of his ‘Santa salary’ to charity and collecting extra donations on his visits across the region. This year, he is hosting his own ‘Storytelling with Father Christmas’ sessions at St Mary’s Guildhall every Saturday in the run up to Christmas, as well as heading to Coombe Abbey Hotel to spread festive cheer to families every Sunday.
His Christmas itinerary also includes Zoe’s Place Baby Hospice in the north of the city, where he visits wards and attends Christmas events, and Welford Christmas Tree Farm, where he helps to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis charity MS Society. He will also be supporting Warwickshire charity Molly Olly’s.
The former police constable and driving instructor has been successfully identified by multiple Coventry children as the ‘real Santa’ due to his unmistakable beard and Christmas spirit.
Paul, originally from Wyken, first assumed the role 30 years ago. After a jam-packed 2023 schedule, he is hoping to begin much-needed repairs on his 1957 sleigh, and add new custom-made Father Christmas apparel to his collection.
Paul said: “I have been Santa for each of the last 30 Christmases but I think 2023 will be one of my busiest yet, so it’s a great opportunity to try and give something back to people who need it at this time of year.
“I started out visiting Coventry schools as Father Christmas in the 1990s before heading out to other places in the Midlands. Once I got started and grew out the beard, which usually gets going from July onwards, it felt like a calling.
“The responses you get from children and families can be really heartwarming, and I find it such a rewarding and enjoyable experience that I have no plans to stop any time soon, especially when the fundraising has become such a central part of it.
“I’m looking forward to getting back to some great venues across the region, including Coombe Abbey and St Mary’s Guildhall, which are both stunning venues and provide an extra layer of Christmas magic over the festive season, as well as seeing families coming together to create memories at a really special time of year.”
Ron Terry, Group Operations Director at No Ordinary Hospitality, which operates Coombe Abbey Hotel and St Mary’s Guildhall, said: “We are extremely lucky to have Paul back as our Santa for another year, and no one care argue his love for the job.
“We would urge anyone visiting us over Christmas to give what they can for the incredible charities Paul is raising money for.”
Storytelling with Father Christmas at St Mary’s Guildhall will take place on Saturday, December 2, 9, 16 and 23, with a relaxed session on December 2.
For more information visit: www.stmarysguildhall.co.uk/christmas-at-st-marys-guildhall
To find out more about Christmas events at Coombe Abbey visit: www.coombeabbey.com/christmas-2023
Discover the full article on Coventry Observer.