By Liana Jacob
THIS BRITISH dad earns up to FIVE-THOUSAND-POUNDS a month spreading Christmas cheer as a PROFESSIONAL SANTA – receiving over ONE THOUSAND letters from children every year.
In 2009, professional Santa, Sheldon Scott (48) from Essex, UK, woke up in the early hours of the morning three weeks before Boxing Day and had an epiphany; he wanted to bring Santa Claus to life.
He spent the next three weeks doing research for props, costumes, fake beards and all the necessary accessories needed to transform into Father Christmas. Using a makeshift Santa costume, he attended a party with his family and surprised them all with his convincing get-up.
A year later, he decided to fully commit to becoming Santa and to create an authentic look; he bought fake beards, belts, boots, gloves. He struggled to find the right beard that would make Santa look real, so he decided to grow out his own beard and would regularly bleach it white at his daughter, Rebecca’s (21) hair salon.
He spent the next few years attending charitable events for free to gain experience as Santa, until 2018 when he was approached by someone who saw him at a church hall and was impressed by his portrayal of Santa and asked him to attend one of his events.
From then his hobby-turned-career was snowballing as there were many other people who wanted him at their events. He has since been earning roughly between £2,000 and £5,000 a month and has been working as professional Santa all-year round.
He has also included his second-youngest child, Sam (9), as his helper elf, who is the head toy maker and oversees all of the toys; making sure they are all designed correctly, packaged carefully and managing the other elves while they do their work.
They have around 30 events leading up to Christmas Day 2019, including a Christmas farm, Christmas fairs, meet and greet events.
“It’s very stressful because I’m very picky and I have to have everything perfect, so it’s literally taken over my life,” Sheldon said.
“This year has been like Christmas all year round because I’ve had so much to get ready to progress my career.
“In my personal life everybody that I come into contact with that knows me all know me as Santa now; everybody just calls me Santa – it’s become my identity.
“I saw somebody in their car the other day, they put their window down and shouted, ‘good morning Santa, how are you?’
“You could do something during the year because some people do a new event called Christmas In July where some people get married and they might want a Santa Claus there, but you never know. Summertime Santa is massive in America and I can get asked to visit their barbeques.
“For the July weddings they usually just want a winter-themed wedding but not necessarily a Christmas wedding.
“Basically, I would just walk through the door and hand out the wedding gifts and say, ‘hello everybody, merry Christmas’ and just being there for photos is enough. You can be asked to attend events any time of the year.
“I asked my son what he loves about being an elf, he said, ‘I love it, it’s magical. It makes me excited and it makes me feel special. It’s a good laugh making people happy.’
“He’s basically the head toy maker; he oversees all of the toys, making sure they are all made correctly, packaged carefully and all the other elves busy doing their work because we’ve got quite a tight schedule to get everything done.
“He comes with me everywhere, he’s my number one Elf, so if I need to go anywhere, he’s always there with me. He’s like Santa’s bodyguard.”
Sheldon says that he has received countless messages and emails from people all over the world wanting to meet him. His favourite aspect of his job is meeting children from all backgrounds and putting smiles on their faces.
“The best thing is the children; it is really emotional, people don’t realise when you do this job seriously it is very emotionally stressful,” he said.
“You see disabled children, special needs children and even just everyday children; they run up to you and hug you.
“I had one little girl say, ‘oh Santa you’re my best friend’, you’re everything to them in that moment in time and that is just incredible.
“They write me letters; every single letter I get from a child, I keep every year in a shoebox. I would never ever throw them away.
“One of my clients was just about to put them in the bin once and I told him, ‘no, no don’t do that because that’s all the children’s hopes, dreams and wishes’.
“So, I keep them all and when I get older like seventy or eighty, it’ll be nice to look back at them. The world today is all doom and gloom; children just want this one piece of magic.
“What I love about Christmas is you always have this magic in the air – unfortunately I feel it is far too commercialised nowadays; it’s all about going out and spend, spend, spend.
“Christmas Day when I was a child there wouldn’t be a car on the road but now, you’d look out of the window and there would be people running around.
“Just be at home with your family, it’s really important, you only get one shot at this life and you’ve got to spend as much time with the people you care about.
“I’m really lucky, ever since I’ve met my wife of twenty-six years we’ve had two Christmases in a way; we always have Christmas Day as a family together and then on Boxing Day we always visit her family and we choose whose house we go to that year – it’s just lovely.
“I’d let my kids believe in Santa for as long as they like. Every day there are new babies being born, so I can be Santa every year for as long as I live. If I can make people happy, then that’s what it’s all about.
“I now have everything I need to be the real Authentic Santa Claus right down to all my accessories; Gold colour real brass magic key that I wear on my belt, Naughty or Nice scanner, Naughty or Nice certificates and so on.
“I’m a professional Santa almost every day from the beginning of November right up to Christmas day.
“This year has also seen me become what is known as a signing Santa. I have taken it upon myself to carry out two training courses in Makaton.”