Christmas-lover sets up postbox for Santa in his Farnworth garden
Santa has a very special helper living in Farnworth.
Honorary elf Paul Heald loves Christmas so much he sets ups a postbox outside his house each Advent so excited youngsters can write to Father Christmas in the North Pole.
But that’s not all — Paul also delivers return letters from Santa to the children, thanking them for their letters.
Paul, aged 38, of Woodfield Grove, took inspiration from his childhood in Westhoughton when he recalls a house that would light up in the run-up to Christmas and children could visit Santa there or post letters to him.
Paul, who is father to twins Alan and Michael, aged 10, and Samuel aged eight, said: “I used to absolutely love doing that when I was a kid and now I have three boys of my own.
"So about six years ago, I set up the postbox outside my house in Farnworth and the response has been brilliant. I usually get about 25 letters a year and then deliver replies door to door.
“A few years ago, kids used to ask Santa for bicycles and remote control cars, but now they ask for electronic items, like games consoles and mobile phones.”
Sadly, not every request can be granted.
Paul, who is a car park attendant for Bolton Wanderers’ home games, said: “One year, when Comet was still in business, a delivery man put a note in asking Santa if he could have a pay rise, but instead the company went under.
"That was a shame, but when it comes to children, Father Christmas always rewards children who have been good all year round.”
Last year, Paul was horrified when he arrived home to find that the postbox had been vandalised.
“I put a note on it to explain to the children that, due to high winds, the elves had removed it temporarily. It was bad that it happened, but it’s better to explain it in a nice way and in a way that children understand.”
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However, the postbox is back this year and is more popular than ever, with 18 letters so far and Paul is hoping to surpass the previous record of 30 for letters received before Christmas Eve.
And what does Paul want for Christmas?
“For my children and local children to smile and enjoy the best time of year — and it would be nice for Bolton Wanderers to get promoted too.”