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Meet Britain's longest-serving Santa! Pensioner Ron, 77, has been playing Father Christmas for 48 yearsRon Horniblew, from Luton, Bedfordshire, first started dressing as Santa in 1964
He has raised thousands of pounds for charity throughout his careerSanta Ron was once crowned World's Best SantaHe is to set up a Santa school to pass on his knowledge
15:45 GMT, 23 December 2012
Dedicated to the Claus: Britain's longest serving Santa Ron Horniblew, has set up his own Santa school after 48 years of playing father Christmas
The top toys on children's wish lists might change every Christmas, but each year there is one constant that brings joy to youngsters around the world – Santa Claus.
And one Father Christmas has become something of an ever present just like the real thing.
At 77, Ron Horniblew, or Santa Ron as he is known, is Britain's longest serving Santa.
For the past 48 years, Ron of Luton, Bedfordshire, has been donning his red suit and putting a smile on the face of thousands of youngsters – he has even won awards for his Santa skills.
His Christmassy career started when he dressed up as a novel way of delivering presents to his son back in 1964.
But he enjoyed it so much that he began dressing up as Santa for his friend's children too, before moving into grottos and using his jolly demeanour to raise money for charity.
Over the decades, Santa Ron has raised thousands of pounds for charity and delivered sack loads of gifts to youngsters.
He has even visited children at an orphanage in the Bahamas, attended Santa conferences and competitions in Sweden, Norway and Denmark and was crowned the World's Best Santa in 2004.
To mark his dedication to Christmas, Ron has been awarded a 40-Year-Service award and is one of the only British Santa's entitled to wear the official Santa badge after being authorised by Santa Claus of Greenland.
He said: 'I started dressing up as Santa when my son Graham was young, friends of mine then asked if I could come round and visit their children and it just snowballed from there.
'I just loved seeing the surprise and happiness I could bring to people.
Early days: Ron, now 77, pictured in 1964, recieved a 40-year-service award and is one of the few British Father Christmases to be allowed to wear an official Santa badge
New career: Ron at the beginning of his Christmas-time career in 1964. He began dressing up as Father Christmas for friends' children after donning his Santa suit for son Graham initially
Honoured: To mark his dedication to Christmas, Ron has been awarded a 40-Year-Service award and is one of the only British Santa's entitled to wear the official Santa badge after being authorised by Santa Claus of Greenland
'On Christmas morning I visit lots of different families I leave around 7.30am and I'm home in time for my Christmas dinner at 2.30pm.
'During my Christmas visits I arrive ringing my bell, the parents usually leave the presents in the porch or on the doorstep for me and I put them in my sack and deliver them to the children.
'To see the look on their faces when I arrive is wonderful, I spend time chatting to the children and pose for photos with the family.
'It just makes Christmas morning that little bit more magical, when I leave the house and everyone is smiling it makes it all worthwhile.
'I really enjoyed competing in the competitions, I have both a bronze and a gold medal. And being named World's Best Santa was a proud moment.
World renowned: Ron, pictured left, with a troop of other Santas, was once crowned World's Best Santa at a global competition in 2004
Well trained: Ron says there is more to being a successful Santa than dressing in red and saying Ho, Ho, Ho. He says it's about listening to the children and making them feel special. He's pictured at the Bakken Santa Claus Annual Congress which he attended in 2004, 2006 and 2008
'But the highlight of my career has to be seeing the smiles on the faces of the children I visited at an orphanage in the Bahamas.
'They were the most fantastic children I've ever came across, they were so loving and appreciative.'
Even though Ron no longer enters competitions, he has launched his own Santa school in the hope of teaching would-be Father Christmasses.
He said: 'I take my job as Santa very seriously, it isn't just about dressing up in a red suit and saying Ho Ho Ho!
'Being Santa is about about listening to the children and making them feel special.
Spreading joy: Not only has Ron raised thousands of pounds for charity in his Father Christmas guise, he's also brought a smile to the face of thousands of youngsters
Christmas cheer: Ron originally dressed up as Santa in 1964 as a novel way of delivering presents to his young son Graham, but enjoyed it so much that it became a regular thing. He's pictured here in the Naughties.
Well-travelled: Ron has visited an orphange in the Bahamas, and taken part in competitions in Norway, Denmark and Sweden as Santa Claus. He's pictured here at the Gllivare Santa Claus Winter Games, which he attended in 2004
'You have to be as excited and enthusiastic with the last child you see on a day as you were with the first. It's important you don't wain.
'It's jolly hard work you have to make sure each child leaves thinking Father Christmas is wonderful.
'A good Santa mustn't use bad language and should never smoke or drink in their suit, there's nothing worse than a smelly Santa.
'They should always look their best and be a jolly good listener.
'I'm hoping to launch officially next year, I have a lot of experience to pass on and it would be nice to train others to continue my legacy.'