PATRIOTIC staff at a Bolton IT firm swapped their keyboards for red roses in celebration of St George’s Day.

Boss of Eventura, Chris Houghton gave his 22 employees the day off to mark the national day of England’s patron saint.

He joined some of them to spend Wednesday in Nelson Square talking to shoppers and passersby while dressed in bowler hats, white shirts and roses — the symbol of England.

Mr Houghton — who is in the process of setting up a Bolton branch of the Royal Society of St George — said he hoped one day April 23 would become a national holiday for all to enjoy.

He added: “It’s a special day because St George is our patron saint, and it’s great because it’s becoming more and more recognised. Regardless of where we’re from, regardless of colour or creed, the day is about English identity and looking at the best of us, rather than the worst.

“It’s natural that we should mark the day. The Scots are very proud of their country, as are the Welsh and Irish, and I don’t see why we should be stopped.”

Mr Houghton has given all his staff the day off on April 23 since the company — based appropriately in St George’s Square, Bolton — was set up 15 years ago, and even writes it into their contracts. He is already making plans for next year’s celebrations and is hoping to take inspiration from the St George’s Day parade in Manchester.

And when launched, the Royal Society of St George will hold events throughout the year.

Meanwhile the flag of St George flew from the top of the Town Hall yesterday, alongside the Union flag.

The Royal Mail also used a special nationalist mark on the millions of letters sent out, reading ‘Happy St George’s Day 2014’.