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Win tickets to Lapland!

PUBLISHED: 14:35 05 November 2010 | UPDATED: 18:07 20 February 2013

Win tickets to Lapland!

Win tickets to Lapland!

Meet Santa Claus and enter our competition to visit him in his Magical Kingdom

Win tickets to Lapland!


Meet Santa Claus and enter our competition to visit him in his Magical Kingdom


Appearing at The Hop Farms Santas Magical Kingdom again this year as Father Christmas, David Laurent reveals what attracts him to the role and why he never needs to go to the gym


Tell us a bit about you


Im David Laurent, 60, I live in north Dorset and work as a childrens entertainer, a clown called Looni Ballooni. I have no children myself, just two kittens, who are busily training me



How did you hear about Santas Magical Kingdom?


I was working as Santa in a Hampshire arboretum but the job went due to cutbacks. A friend told me there was a job going in Kent as Santa and I applied and got the role. Last year was our first time at The Hop Farm. Of course Im not the only Santa at our busiest, there are up to 10 of us but the public only ever see one.



What are the qualities you need to bring to the role?


You really have to be a childrens entertainer first and youve got to really like children and having fun with them. To a certain extent, you have to believe you are Santa. I always try and use my Werthers Original voice when we are having our intimate conversation together. If you can get it right and see the childs eyes just getting bigger and bigger, its a marvellous feeling. We are the final person the children see on their visit and there is a tremendous build up and sense of excitement by the time they finally meet you.



How do you know what to say to each child?


The parents write a bit about their children in advance, the elf brings it in and you quickly memorise that before they come in so you can personalise your questions. Sometimes we can be with the children for 10 to 15 minutes, so you can really develop ideas and tell the story of Santa. Some of the very small ones are absolutely terrified and its our job to put them at their ease. But you can never force them and sometimes you just have to say well, maybe well meet again next year.



Isnt it exhausting?


It is tiring, yes, because its all improvisation and it can be a bit like the confessional at times. You can never assume and have to just go with what youre told and if you make a mistake, retrieve it as quickly as possible. By Christmas Eve, our final day, youre really on the ball. I also double up as Pip the Elf and do some magic as well then you really get to see all the different sides of the experience. I certainly never need to go to the gym and last year I lost weight!



What age groups are you meeting?


Even children as young as two know who Santa is and it can last up to six, but after that theres doubt and the youre not real feeling creeps in. Every child that comes in is different and you must never talk down to them but always treat them as an equal. If they dont want to play along, you can still have fun and they all believe in Santa when it comes to getting their present!



Top present requests?


Last year it ranged from Ben 10, cuddly toys and colouring sets to Xbox 360 and Wii Games. Thomas the Tank Engine train sets and Buzz Lightyear are still very popular.



Any sticky moments?


When I was working in Hampshire wed only get the children for a couple of minutes and you can go into auto-pilot a bit. I asked one little eight-year-old girl, shall we get Mummy something nice? and she said, no, shes been very wicked. I then asked about dad, only to be told thats not my dad, its her boyfriend. Id made the classic mistake of just reacting to what you see in front of you. There can also be a bit of hair pulling, but the whole wig, beard and moustache (which is made from yak hair) is stuck on, so it cant come off.



Your most magical moments?


Last year it snowed in Kent the weekend before Christmas, so the Magical Kingdom was covered in real snow. That was very special. And once when I asked a shy little girl what she wanted for her present, she just asked for everyone to be happy, which was a real lip-trembling moment.



What is your own Christmas Day like?


I have friends over for the day and I will be doing the cooking usually not turkey, but something like roast beef in a wine, orange and nutmeg sauce, then well plonk down in front of the TV with a brandy. And no, I wont be putting on the Santa suit!



GET IN TOUCH


Santas Magical Kingdom


The Hop Farm, Beltring


Paddock Wood TN12 6PY


Opens 13 Nov and Santas Magical Kingdom will be open at weekends and during school holidays until Christmas Eve.


Tickets: 27.50 per person 13 Nov-5 Dec and 35 per person 10 Dec and 24 Dec. School parties and group concessions available.


Tel: 01622 872068 or visit www.santasmagicalkingdom.co.uk


Includes 11 different undercover areas inside the Hop Farm, new for 2010 will be a multi-sensory 4D cinema adventure and an interactive ice walk way, meeting real reindeer and writing letters to Santa which are whisked away up the post office chimney. Craft workshop, stories with Mother Christmas and a private meeting with Santa in his study. Visitors can walk through winter scenes, including a snow-covered forest and the North Pole. Families can also ride on a full-size Victorian carousel.


Reader competition


To win one family ticket (two adults and up to three children), for either Saturday 27 or Sunday 28 November, just answer the following simple question:


Q: Name two of Santas reindeer beginning with the letter D


Send your answer and your choice of date to:


Father Christmas


Kent Life


Baskerville Place


Worthing


West Sussex BN11 1UG


or by email to: editor@kent-life.co.uk


Closing date for entries: 19 November 2010.




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