Roy steps into Santa’s boots

Roy Stafford
Roy Stafford

A Stamford man has stepped into Santa’s shiny black boots and red coat as he helps a charity in the run-up to Christmas.

Sue Ryder’s Thorpe Hall Hospice in Peterborough appealed in the Mercury last month for someone to help as Santa because the real deal was too busy in the North Pole.

And when former children’s entertainer Roy Stafford and his wife Heather spotted the article, they decided to lend a hand.

The kind-hearted couple of Essex Road, Stamford, have been supporting Thorpe Hall’s fundraising activities at Serpentine Green in Hampton, Peterborough, all this week where Roy has been listening carefully to the wishes of dozens of children dressed in his own festive suit.

On Saturday, he met more than 100 childen - and says it is the children that are the “real stars of the show” - not him.

“They really make me laugh. One little girl kicked me and told me off for getting her a toy pony, not the real pony she’d asked for last year,” said Roy, who turns 73 on Christmas Day.

“I’ve always been involved in charity work and, although we’ve never had any involvement with Thorpe Hall, we’re really pleased to be able to help.”

Roy was brought up in a circus family and performed as Cuckoo the Clown for many years, visiting children’s parties and care homes, and often donning a Santa suit at Christmas.

But he injured his back when he fell from a motorcycle on a high wire at the age of 18 and the injury flared up again during a fall down the stairs a couple of years ago, leaving him in a wheelchair and forced to hang up his oversized clown shoes.

He was delighted at the opportunity to be able to get back into costume and entertain the children again when he saw the Mercury article. And wife Heather has been helping out, bucket collecting for the hospice and handing out sweets to the children.

Staff at Thorpe Hall were equally delighted that someone was willing to step into the big red suit and help out.

Hospice fundraiser Cheyenne Graves said: “This is just the kind of community spirit we appreciate so much - and we’re really grateful to both the Staffords for their enthusiasm, and the Mercury for putting us in touch with each other!”