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Dial ‘Ho-Ho-Ho’ for Ministry of Christmas emergency Santa service

PUBLISHED: 07:00 28 November 2017 | UPDATED: 08:19 28 November 2017

Santa school's Class of 2017 to tackle Christmas shortage. Picture: Ministry of Christmas

Santa school's Class of 2017 to tackle Christmas shortage. Picture: Ministry of Christmas

Ministry of Christmas

Moves to tackle a desperate shortage of Santas to help children get through Christmas is under way in east London in a converted Dickensian ragged school.

One trainee Santa learning what east London children want for Christmas. Picture: Ministry of Christmas One trainee Santa learning what east London children want for Christmas. Picture: Ministry of Christmas

The crisis in the National Elf Service is being healed by ‘Operation Santa’ to train up Father Christmas and his elves for the Big Day.

The operation is being coordinated by a Santa school which the Ministry of Christmas is now running at Stepney’s Ragged School Museum next to the Regent’s Canal.

Portly, bearded figures dressed in bright red winter coats with fur trimmings began their public appearance on Saturday when the Ministry opened its seasonal training centre with a pilot Santa’s Grotto to be rolled out by December 25.

Santa's little helpers? Youngsters in training for the National Elf Sevice. Picture: Ministry of Christmas Santa's little helpers? Youngsters in training for the National Elf Sevice. Picture: Ministry of Christmas

Youngsters flocked to the museum in Copperfield Road, formerly housing Dr Barnado’s Victorian Ragged School in the 19th century, to take part in six grotto training sessions through the day.

“We are using 20 years’ experience of making magic,” Santa School founder James Lovell, 52, said.

“This helps create an attraction to entertain children of all ages.”

Children at Stepney's Ragged School Museum watching Santas rehearse for the Big Day. Picture: Ministry of Christmas Children at Stepney's Ragged School Museum watching Santas rehearse for the Big Day. Picture: Ministry of Christmas

The Ministry started its Santa school in 1999, under the sub-departmental title of ‘Ministry of Fun’, to turn out fully-trained magical performers for grottos, department stores and public events.

It claims to be Britain’s only genuine professional yuletide training school.

Children were invited to watch the Santas and their elves in Stepney on Saturday in a dress rehearsal for the Big Day.

One trainee Santa showing a little girl how to post a letter to the North Pole with her Christmas 'wish' list. Picture: Ministry of Christmas One trainee Santa showing a little girl how to post a letter to the North Pole with her Christmas 'wish' list. Picture: Ministry of Christmas

They were also told they could meet the real Santa, if they were really good.

Some sceptical East End youngsters, however, questioned why Santa needed to go to school if he’s genuinely been doing Christmas rounds for centuries.

But Ministry of Christmas officials insist the real Santa does exist.

Their graduates are merely helping Old Nick when he can’t get to every rooftop chimney in the 24 time zones around the globe by midnight on Christmas Eve.

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