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No plans to retire says ‘longest-serving’ Father Christmas, 82

Ron Horniblew first wore his red and white suit in 1964.

Ron Horniblew, 82, the UK's longest-serving Santa (Joe Giddens/PA)
Ron Horniblew, 82, the UK's longest-serving Santa (Joe Giddens/PA)

An 82-year-old man who claims to be the UK’s longest-serving Father Christmas has said he has no plans to retire despite racking up 53 years in the job.

Ron Horniblew, who first wore his red and white suit for his son in 1964, has travelled the world and met countless families in a bid to spread festive cheer.

The pensioner said he still got a thrill from making people smile but said he longed for a return to the “old days” when children received just a few presents and not big, expensive gifts.

Mr Horniblew, who lives in Luton with his wife Betty and also works in the furniture business, said: “If I can make one person happy and smiley, then that’s great.

“And you’ll get some people who are a bit miserable and think, ‘silly old fool’, but I’m the one who’s the clever one because I’m happy and it makes me feel young.”

Asked if he was tempted to throw in the sack, he said it was just his “old knees” which held him back and added: “(I’ve) no plans at all to retire, no.

Mr Horniblew first donned the suit in 1964 (Joe Giddens/PA)

“I’m going to make it hard for the next person who says he is the longest-running Santa.”

Mr Horniblew has visited countries including Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Kyrgyzstan to compete against other Santas and was once crowned world champion Father Christmas at the annual games.

He said one of his most moving experiences was during a trip to the Bahamas, where he visited an orphanage run by nuns.

The long-serving Santa has no plans to retire (Joe Giddens/PA)

“They were the best-mannered children I have ever seen, they were so polite and so happy to see me,” he said.

He said they loved their simple gifts of tangerines and sweets wrapped in napkins tied with ribbons, which he believes would not have been received with the same enthusiasm by children at home.

Mr Horniblew, who is currently raising money for the East Anglian Air Ambulance through his festive endeavour, said he felt it was “too much” for children to be given top range gifts such as iPads.

Mr Horniblew lives in Luton with his wife Betty (Joe Giddens/PA)

He admitted he also struggled to understand the huge numbers of presents they now receive.

He said: “I say to parents, if you want a toy for a baby, the best toy is a cardboard box with some paper in it and they will play for hours with it. Plus, they’re using their imagination.

“I go to people’s houses on Christmas morning, just to make sure that I’ve delivered the right presents, and sometimes I have one or two presents left over on the old sleigh, and sometimes I can’t walk across the lounge because there’s so many presents.

Mr Horniblew called for a return to the old days with simpler presents (Joe Giddens/PA)

“How on earth can children play with all these presents? In my days you had one or maybe two presents and that was it.

“I think we ought to go back to those old days.”

Press Association


From Belfast Telegraph