Beloved local Santa returns for 15th year

2018-11-14 06:00
Twins Francois and William van Zyl with Hugh Davidson, who also has an identical twin, playing the role of Santa.Photos:ANIKA DE BEER

Twins Francois and William van Zyl with Hugh Davidson, who also has an identical twin, playing the role of Santa.Photos:ANIKA DE BEER

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LOCAL resident Hugh Davidson has donned his Christmas suit for the 15th year of bringing joy to children as one of Port Elizabeth’s favourite Santas.

His journey as a jolly gentleman started about 17 years ago when a friend asked him to fill in as Santa at a local shopping centre.

Shortly thereafter, he decided to take things to the next level.

“We were sitting at the breakfast table and I said to my son, ‘Well, I’m not cutting off my beard. I want to do something with it.’ And my son told me friends of theirs were in Cape Town and their child fell and broke his neck. He ended up in Aurora and it’s very expensive to get treatment there.

“So, my son suggested I go there and raise funds for them. And I did.”

This has set the tone for Davidson’s festive seasons for 15 years. Now, every year when he portrays the role of Santa, he does it to raise funds for charity.

This year’s chosen beneficiary is CHOC Childhood Cancer Foundation.

And it’s not the first time CHOC has been chosen. In fact, it’s the third. Other local charities that have benefited from Davidson’s generosity are Aurora, St Francis Hospice and the EP Children’s Home.

“We’ve had little ones in the family with cancer and my mom died of cancer, so it really is something close to our hearts. And he loves children,” said Davidson’s wife, Marie.

They have three children and four grandchildren, the youngest of whom is five.

Davidson is currently raising funds for CHOC and bringing smiles to tiny faces every weekend at The Christmas Shop in Baywest Mall.

He will be there until December 7 when he moves to Greenacres Shopping Centre, with his collection box for CHOC, until December 24.

Davidson said he meets the most interesting people when he’s wearing the Santa suit.

“I’ve had people from Australia here, America, Johannesburg, etc. I can almost write a book about all the things I’ve seen and done since I started playing Santa.

“I once had a family here of six generations. The eldest was a 98-year-old great-great-grandmother and the youngest was two months old. They were from Cape Town, Joburg, Botswana and all over and they all came to PE for the little one’s christening,” Davidson said.

Marie said the children are absolutely mad about him.

“The grandchildren have also learned now that he is Santa here at the shop and not ‘Oupa’,” she laughed.

“I can’t stay here (at the shop) and ask these people to pay me to be able to take a photo with me,” Davidson said.

“Anyone can take a photo of their little one with Santa and all I ask for in return is a donation to CHOC.”

Anyone interested in making a difference in the lives of children supported by CHOC can find Davidson at The Christmas Shop on weekends until December 7 and from then on at Greenacres Shopping Centre every day until December 24. There is also a collection box at The Christmas Shop that will remain there even after Davidson has moved to Greenacres Shopping Centre.

Santa will once again be making a stop at The Christmas Shop, which has moved to the upper level next to Entrance 3 in Baywest Mall, this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, November 17 and 18 from 10:30 to 15:00.

It can’t be missed. Santa will be ringing his bell from the balcony on the upper level to make sure the children know where he is this year, as the shop has moved.

For more info on The Christmas Shop, contact Pauline King at 082 443 0389 or pauline@thechristmasshop.co.za.

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