A Claus for concern! Santa shortage hits Norwich

Santa Bob thinks that the santa shortages are down to venues

Santa Bob hard at work - Credit: Bob Lloyd

Christmas grottoes may have to go without their bearded leader this December - because Santa has proven hard to get hold of.

Across the country people who step up as Santa as the festive season approaches have been rushed of their feet.

And any people who usually stand in as jolly St Nick have left the trade. 

Paul Andrew Goldsmith, is an actor and director of The Polar Express on the Mid Norfolk Railway which auditions and rehearses in Norwich.  

Paul Andrew Goldsmith now gets to perform and teach full time. 

And now Paul, a theatre company owner and actor, gets to perform and teach full time. - Credit: Teele Dunkley

He said: “We found that this year - more so than any other year - we had fewer applications for the role of Santa Claus.” 

The reason behind the shift, Paul believes, is because of the pandemic. 

He explained: “I think it is an age thing.  

Most Read

“Often Santa is an older character and they have close and continued contact with children throughout the festive season.”  

Director and Actor Paul Andrew Goldsmith said he saw far less applications for Santa than previous years

Director and actor Paul Andrew Goldsmith said he saw far less applications for Santa than previous years, but he believes he landed a great cast. - Credit: Alex Lyons

He added: “I think a lot of Santas have probably had to really think about protecting themselves this Christmas after the year we have had.” 

One of Norwich’s most popular Santa figures, Bob Lloyd aka Santa Bob, said: “I don’t think it is that just the Santas are in short supply, I think it is also the venues.” 

Santa Bob is usually the resident Father Christmas at a city garden centre, but was unable to do it last year because of Covid.

This year the business has once again made that decision.

Santa Bob will be at various locations in Norfolk throughout the festive season. 

Santa Bob will be at various locations in Norfolk throughout the festive season. - Credit: Bob Lloyd

Santa Bob added: “I think they were being cautious for another year because of Covid. 

"The business I work with give out really good quality gifts so they have to be sure the footfall will be there.” 

And he was even kicking his snow-booted heels at first, adding: “This year, I contacted a few different venues with no luck, so I decided to do private visits again.” 

He did over 30 private visits last year on children's doorsteps as well as working with an event company where he would arrive in villages during a sleigh.  

“We ended up seeing over a thousand children last year who were desperate for that magical festive cheer,” he said. 

Have you booked to see Santa anywhere in Norwich this season?

Have you booked to see Santa anywhere in Norwich this season? - Credit: Bob Lloyd

However as Christmas gets closer he has now been booked for four venues, saying: “I am very busy this year.”  

What does it take to be a Santa?  

It might be the most wonderful time of the year but being Father Christmas is no easy sleigh ride.  

Jolly St Nicks have been reporting pay packets of up to £40 an hour.

But it's not just a 9 to 5 job, said Santa Bob.  

Santa Bob explained that he also visits homes for a magical experience.  

He said: “I go inside and read a Christmas story to the children.  

“We will then sing some classic Christmas songs and carols together.” 

He said there will be lots of opportunities for photos and people are encouraged to invite their friends and family.  

“I prefer to make it a real occasion and event so that it is extra magical for the children,” added Santa Bob.  

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter