Santa Claus is coming to Town!Publish Date: Wed 19th Dec 2018
George Robinson could give the real Father Christmas a run for his money
A member of Redcar and Cleveland Circle, George has been raising cash for charity and delighting children for years in his role as Santa Claus.
The statistics are mind-boggling. Since he donned the big red suit back in 1997, George has seen 50,285 children, racked up 15,896 miles in his ‘sleigh’ and, since 2004 when his charitable endeavours began, raised an amazing £30,050. George, aged 71, tells Catena how it all began. “When I first started it in 1997 it was for the company that I worked for. I said yes, I’ll be your Santa Claus, because
I had the right figure anyway, but I will grow my beard. I only started to grow it about four weeks beforehand so it wasn’t that good but it was good enough. I saw 60 children that year at one party. He continues: “I did it for my company for a couple of years and then other people found out about it and asked me to do it for them. I didn’t charge anybody to start with, but in 2004 I started to charge them for children’s charities. Between 2004 and last year, I raised £30,050. It’s for a different charity every year but it’s always a children’s charity.” George takes his Santa responsibilities seriously. He prepares by growing his hair from April and not shaving after 1 August. No fake beard and wig for this Santa then: “It’s all me, it’s the real deal.” A former engineer, George’s attention to detail means that he has kept records of all his Santa duties, hence the staggering stats mentioned earlier. And, like the actual Father Christmas, he has travelled a lot. “I’ve been to schools all over, including in Cheshire, Durham and Sunderland, although I have mainly been to local schools in Cleveland.”
It’s easy to imagine the delight on little ones’ faces when George walks into the room dressed as Santa. “If they’re in nursery then we just have a good time. If they’re a little bit older, I might just go into the class and let them ask me some questions and move on from there.” And the reaction from the children? “Awe. They’re in awe of me.” Needless to say, the joy is reciprocated. “Just seeing the kids’ faces is the best thing.” Since 1997, George has attended 788 parties. Now he’s older, he is starting to wind down. “This year’s not so bad because I’m getting to a stage where I’m thinking of packing it in and letting my son Jason take over. He lets his hair grow slightly, lets his beard grow, then dyes his hair and beard blond, whereas mine is a natural grey.” George’s wife, Maureen, has supported him throughout his years as Father Christmas (“It gives her a couple of hours freedom when I’m out.”), as has his family of two sons, two daughters and seven grandchildren. George, who has been a Catenian since 1978, president on four occasions and provincial chamberlain, was recently honoured for his work with the St Vincent de Paul Society, receiving the Benemerenti medal. While he is modest about his achievement (“I basically do what everybody else does for the St Vincent de Paul.”), his commitment to the society is impressive: roles have included conference president, conference secretary, district council president, district council treasurer, and central council president. As far as being a Catenian is concerned, George most enjoys the fellowship offered by the association. “The great thing is just sitting talking to the guys and their wives.”