CHRISTMAS has come early for Santa who last year feared he would have to hang up his suit.

Instead of meeting children across the town and handing out gifts, he was sat at home last December with an empty diary as only one school wanted him to pay a visit.

But the Christmas wishes of Steven Corns, who shares the same initials as Santa Claus, have come true as he is back in demand and is spreading festive cheer to youngsters in the run-up to December 25.

A sad Santa last year told The Bolton News how he had reluctantly given up hope and put his pristine £100 red suit in the loft.

But now the Haslam Park Primary School caretaker, who has been Father Christmas for nearly 30 years, is back in demand.

Mr Corns said: “It must be a true Christmas story because the magic of Christmas, the impossible, has happened. People have remembered the story in The Bolton News.

“It was 12 months ago, but it must have had an impact.

“Christmas can be timeconsuming and tiring, but if you do something like this your attitude changes.

“Being Father Christmas is about the good you can do and the happiness it brings.

It makes you realise what Christmas is all about.

“My wife, Margaret, is pleased because I was disappointed last year because I wasn’t in demand.

“Christmas is still Christmas, but now it has got that little bit of sparkle again.”

Mr Corns, aged 57, of Almond Street, Astley Bridge, is happy to play the part for free or asks for a small donation, which he will be giving to the Destitute Animal Shelter in Northolt Drive, Bolton.

He made his comeback last week when he gave gifts to pupils at St Ethelbert's RC Primary School in Melbourne Road, Deane, and is the resident Santa each weekend in the run-up to Christmas at Barton Grange Garden Centre in Wigan Road, Hunger Hill.

Mr Corns said: “I get pleasure out of doing it, the charity will benefit and seeing Santa makes the children happy.”