Autumn Chickens website creator, Claire Baldry, explains...
"We all know that Father Christmas has many helpers, so we can never be absolutely sure, in the approach to the festive season, who is (or is not) authentic, but I have suspected for many years now that the real Santa Claus spends part of his time living in my hometown of Bexhill on Sea."
Here are my reasons…
Quite a lot of celebrities choose to live in Bexhill. It’s a great little town, with a sunny climate, but also slightly ‘out of the way’. You don’t travel through Bexhill en route to anywhere else. It is the perfect location for a Santa hideaway.
We look after our celebrities and care about their privacy. They can stroll along the promenade largely undisturbed. We know who they are, but we respect their need for anonymity.
3. For travel to the North Pole, we are within easy reach of Gatwick. Alternatively we have strong off-shore winds in Bexhill and a clear coastline to guide a reindeer-pulled sleigh.
4. We are a community of animal lovers. Nearly everyone seems to own a dog, and there are plenty of high-quality veterinary practices and animal sanctuaries should advice be needed about reindeer health.
5. Our town is known as ‘The Birthplace of British Motoring’. Although not necessarily known for the quality of our driving and parking, we do have a reputation for classic vehicles. We even have the well supported Bexhill 100 Car Club, which regularly displays its classic cars. Towards Christmas they parade their very own hot rod sleigh.
So I felt enormously privileged when Bexhill’s own Santa and his wife accepted my invitation for them to take part in an exclusive interview for my blog and website.
Here he is…the Bexhill Santa, sometimes known locally as Ernie. How could he not be the real Santa Claus?
Below is Mrs Claus, first name Penny, who looks after Santa and ensures he is fit and well for the big day.
I met up with them both at an Antiques Centre in Bexhill to discover a little more about Santa’s history. It turns out that following two year’s National Service and subsequent experience as a grocer, Ernie not only ran a very successful kitchen manufacturing company, but also became president of the local British legion. He is an active member of the Bexhill 100 Classic Car Club. This was further evidence that I was interviewing the real thing. Military discipline, a background in food and drink, and woodworking skills seemed the ideal background for someone involved in toy making, sleigh mending and eating cookies. He even described how he had spent time with the Royal Sussex Fusiliers in Suez and Korea, perfect training for worldwide travel in exposed weather.
I then chatted to his wife Penny. As a retired paediatric nurse, she took her role as Santa’s companion and carer very seriously.
“He had his right hip replaced in late September” Penny explained. “It was my role to support his recovery and stop him from doing too much. He fell into our fishpond two days before surgery which worried me, so I nagged him mercilessly.” (I couldn’t help but wonder who fed the fish, while Santa was busy over Christmas, but decided not to ask.)
Anyway, thanks to Ernie’s disciplined approach to post-operative exercises, and Penny’s meticulous care, I am pleased to announce that the Bexhill Santa is fit and well and ready for the demands of his Christmas Eve delivery service. In the meantime, you will catch him at various venues in Hastings and Bexhill in the run-up to Christmas. If you happen to be in central Bexhill on 29th November, you will see him in his sleigh leading an illuminated parade of classic cars, community groups, and entertainers before he lights up the Bexhill Christmas tree.
Thank you to both Penny and Ernie for saving Santa for this very special event.