‘Sacked’ Santa is back working in Norwich

He was once famously sacked as Father Christmas after a bust up over a throne at a Norwich department store but now Philip 'Peachy' Mead has donned the red suit and beard once more to bring Christmas to life for hundreds of youngsters.

Mr Mead, 72, is helping to spread the festive spirit from the comfort of his grotto at the Highway Garden and Leisure Centre which has been trans-formed into a winter wonderland in the run-up to Christmas.

The well-known entertainer, dubbed Norfolk's King of Comedy, has been working at his grotto at the centre, located just a few minutes from Norwich on the A146, since October.

It is the second year Mr Mead has worked as a Santa at the centre and he said business is booming with families all wanting to take their children to see Father Christmas.

It is all a far cry from that dark day back in December 2004 when Mr Mead was given his marching orders as the John Lewis store Santa after he had taken bosses to task over their failure to provide him with a throne.

The story, which was reported by the Evening News, made headlines throughout the country.

He said: 'I'm still living off that story. That really kicked things off and I had offers to be the Harrods Santa the year after that. It was amazing. Everywhere I go people talk about it. I was in Eastbourne once and people were asking me if I was that sacked Santa!'

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But despite his previous bad experience as a store Santa Mr Mead said he had no hesitation in stepping back into the suit or the role. He said: 'It's been great, really good fun and the kids are fantastic.

'This is my second year here. Last year I just did it to help out, but it was so successful they asked me to do it from October this year until Christmas and I haven't done anything else.'

To find out more details about when you can visit Santa at the Highway Garden and Leisure Centre call 01508 494665 or log on to www.highwaygardenandleisure.co.uk

Have you hit new heights after being made redundant from a job? Call reporter Peter Walsh on 01603 772436 or email peter.walsh@archant.co.uk