We’ve broken with Hills District Mums tradition and spent five minutes with special Hills District dad Dudley. Someone who’s extra special at this time of year and sports a fabulous real beard!

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to be Santa

I am a retired Head Teacher, Science. My phone rang one morning and Bindi (my daughter and HDM, Belinda) told me that a company was looking for Santas and gave me the phone number. I rang, made a time to interview and was offered the job by Scene to Believe, the company which supplies almost all the Santa characters in Australia. Being ‘well proportioned’ and bearded probably helped.

What do you love about what you do?

My first appointment as a teacher was to the lower division of a two teacher school (kindy, first and second classes in the one room) which I, as a 19 year old six foot bloke found a little confronting, especially since I hadn’t been trained for such a position. One day a new kinder girl rushed across the playground, attached herself to my leg and called me “Granma” for a few days – I even had to get a couple of year 6 girls to hold her while I went to the toilet! And so began my love of teaching and kids in general.

So at this stage in my life, Santa keeps me in touch with kids. Unfortunately these days it’s a bit frowned upon for a bloke to say he loves children, but there it is!

Have you got a funny story or two for us?

5 minutes isn’t enough time as there are too many but I‘ve been declared “The real Santa – his beard is real” after a quick tug. And some of the things kids tell Santa make mothers cringe when they hear what’s being revealed – but don’t worry, I have a selective memory!

You live in the wider Hills area when you’re not in the North Pole. What do you love about the area and what do you enjoy doing?

When people ask me “Where’s Glenorie?” I say “It’s where God goes for his holidays.” It’s a great area. In my spare time I’m heavily engaged in Rotary as a trainer and facilitator, but in MY spare time I restore old stationary engines, the ones used years ago in shearing sheds, and I also engage in Orchard killing in the name of trying to grow them.

What do you love about this special time of year and how do you celebrate Christmas?

My Santa job lets me surreptitiously encourage ethical thinking in kids’ minds, such as helping others less fortunate than them, helping mum and dad or being nice to their brother or sister, reading books instead of playing electronics, playing outside, wearing a helmet when on the new bike or scooter and other things… in cahoots with a mum standing nearby and nodding.

We celebrate Christmas quite traditionally with family get togethers, and now, with all my kids with their own family commitments, just chillin’.

We love that this Santa has a real beard! Do you sport that all year or is it grown just for the job?

I’ve had a beard ever since I was a part time 17 year old wheat truck driver – not shaving gave me an extra 10 minutes in bed in the morning. It’s usually fairly short but I let it grow out from August or September then have a ceremonial de-fuzzing on Boxing Day or soon after.

Santa in real life

Thanks to all the Hills District Mums for all your support – I’m doing something I love! Merry Christmas and a Happy New year!