A kind-hearted council chief gave Father Christmas a run for his money by dressing up as Santa and spreading festive cheer to schools and old people’s homes over Christmas.

Buckinghamshire County Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for transportation, Mark Shaw, donned a Santa suit and attended more than 35 events, from school Christmas fayres to pensioners’ lunches, around Chesham and other parts of Bucks.

He said: “It has been fantastically busy. It was the old people’s homes that were the most touching [visits].

“They were really pleased to see me. Some of the residents I visited had Alzheimer’s and it was lovely to see some flicker of recognition in their eyes.

“It is a cause very close to me – my grandad had Alzheimer’s so I like to give something back to them.”

Mr Shaw has been taking on the role of Father Christmas for around four years after he was asked by a Chesham pub to be its quizmaster dressed as Santa when he served as mayor of the town.

Now, he says he gets asked by various groups from the summer months to be their Santa at Christmas, taking on 38 events this year alone.

He added: “From sitting in grottos handing out gifts to going out and about on the Rotary Club sleigh – it’s great fun.”

He also visited a number of schools, including Chesham’s Newtown School, in Berkhampstead Road, where he was previously a part of the governing body, saying the children are always delighted to see him.

He said: “It is absolutely wonderful to see their eyes light up as you walk into the room, and that is very special in itself.
“It is great fun.”

He also read Christmas stories to children at Chesham Library and took time out of his own Christmas celebrations to attend a lunch for older people in Chesham on Christmas Day.

He often makes personal visits to homes of terminally ill or very poorly children who are unable to attend any other seasonal events, at the request of their parents or carers - something which he says he is “more than happy to do.”

And Mr Shaw does it out of the goodness of his heart – rather than taking payment, he asks those who want to pay him to donate instead to the Amersham and Chesham MS Society.

He added: “Christmas is such a fun and happy time and I love being part of the excitement and build up. I think it’s important that everyone gets to experience the magic of Christmas, whatever your age or circumstances and this is my way of doing my bit to help that happen.

“It is great to bring a bit of joy and laughter to people at this time of the year.”