John Shaw is not someone who likes the quiet life. As well as a 37 year career at Wirral Council, the 66-year old has been chauffeur to the Mayor and a magistrate for 21 years - and for the last three he transforms himself into Santa at Christmas too.
John said: ‘I was always into performing. I started in panto, helping raise money for Wallasey Disabled Swimming Club and was in lots of shows and plays. I used to love the action pieces but seven years ago I had a heart attack and a stroke within a few days of each other.
‘It was serious. I was paralysed down one side and it took a long time to come back, even to talk. So now I’ve found what is perfect for me. I can sit down and give so much joy to the children, all from the comfort of my own chair!
‘When I first started in panto I was always one of the evil villains and had a terrible, evil laugh, but now I’m ho ho ho!’
Although Santa and his reindeers travel all around the world each Christmas, coincidentally John has spent most of this festive period at Carr Farm, in Meols.
‘The children all have lovely smiles and that makes me smile a lot.
‘I’ve also been Father Christmas at Chill Factore in Manchester,’ added John. ‘It was very cold. They had me on the ice! It really was chill factor for Santa - he almost had chilblains!’
John first wanted to be Santa when he was just six years old. ‘My mum and I were in a shop in Birkenhead and they had a grotto. There was a tunnel of stars and at the end I saw a cheerful red-suited old fellow and I thought ‘one day I want to be him.’
‘My preparations to become Santa begin in June each year. I grow my beard because it’s better to have your own than to use a fake one because children like to swing on Santa’s beard and I don’t fancy it twanging in to my nose!
‘When you are Santa, a lot of things touch your heart, and also things make you cry with laughter too.
‘Once a little lad told me he didn’t want to see me, he only came to see the fish!
‘There are sad stories too. I remember a young lady walked in very shyly and when she sat on my knee, she buried her head in to the fur on my jacket. When she sat up I saw she’d had a juvenile stroke and it brought it home to me because I was palsied after my stroke. We had a little cry and a hug and she’s been to see me three years on the run.
‘I love it’ said John. ‘The best thing by far about being Santa is the happiness’.
‘Yes, I have met the real Father Christmas!’ revealed John, a big smile across his face. ‘It was amazing. He just smiled and winked to let me know keep up the good work and keep spreading the joy’.
See more photos of John below...