A CARETAKER who played the part of Santa Claus for 30 years took his own life, an inquest has heard.

Steven Corns was found hanged at Haslam Park Primary School in Wigan Road, where he worked, in the early hours of Saturday, February 16.

Police went to the school shortly before midnight after a “concern for his welfare” call.

They discovered his body in the school hall. His death was said to not be suspicious.

An inquest at Bolton Coroners Court heard Mr Corns, aged 57, of Almond Street, Astley Bridge, had a history of mental health problems and had visited his doctor for treatment.

Mr Corns was well-known in the community for his love of playing Father Christmas.

More than a year ago he told The Bolton News of his disappointment after only receiving one invitation to act as Santa Claus in 2011.

He feared the tradition was no longer popular with youngsters and was preparing to put away his £100 suit in the loft of the home he shared with wife, Margaret.

But his Christmas wishes came true last year as he was inundated once again with offers to play Father Christmas.

He was the resident Santa at Barton Grange Garden Centre and was able to donate about £100 to the Destitute Animal Shelter in Northolt Drive, Bolton, for his efforts.

In a letter to The Bolton News just before Christmas last year he said: “This has been the most memorable Christmas for me, tiring, but probably the best one ever, and my heartfelt thanks go to all who have made my wish come true.”

Mr Corns, who was proud to share the same initials as Santa Claus, said the festive season had its “sparkle” back again and said the overwhelming demand for Father Christmas in Bolton again was a “true Christmas story”.

Bolton Coroner Jennifer Leeming recorded a verdict of suicide yesterday and said his death was caused by hanging.