The Dud­ley Canal Trust decks the cav­erns with sparkling lights, and Santa tells us what it’s like be­hind the scenes

Canal Boat - - Contents - *Santaw­illbe at Dud­ley Cav­erns­from Satur­day 26 Novem­ber, to join in the fun, book on­dud­l­ey­canal­trust.org.uk or 0121557 6265.

Meet Father Christmas at Dud­ley Cav­erns

1 What do you like about the wa­ter­ways?

The wa­ter­ways around Dud­ley are a lit­tle oa­sis in the heart of the in­dus­trial Black Coun­try. They also give me a re­ally good run­way to land on when I re­turn from de­liv­er­ing all of my presents.

2 Which is your favourite wa­ter­way?

As you may imag­ine, my favourite is the full 2,888 me­tres of the canal that runs through the Dud­ley Tun­nel. Ru­dolph’s nose re­ally helps to light up the way.

3 Which sea­son do you like best on the canals?

We are busiest in the sum­mer with hol­i­day­mak­ers tak­ing trips on one of our trip boats and it’s fab­u­lous watch­ing the chil­dren en­joy a dif­fer­ent sea­son. When it’s hot out­side, the tun­nels are lovely and cool.

4 And what is the best time of day?

Morn­ings are best, just be­fore all of the chil­dren ar­rive with their fam­i­lies. I love the an­tic­i­pa­tion of the day ahead.

5 What do the wa­ter­ways have to of­fer the coun­try?

Some­thing for every­body, a great habi­tat for wildlife, some­where for health and fit­ness be it a walk, jog or cy­cle. En­ter­tain­ment such as we of­fer with trips into an area not oth­er­wise ac­ces­si­ble. Ed­u­ca­tion, our new Por­tal build­ing has pur­pose-built ar­eas for schools to visit and learn about the in­dus­trial past of the area.

6 How many years have you taken part in Santa boat trips?

They’ve been tak­ing place here for 31 years, I have been in­volved for three.

7 What is the best thing about be­ing Santa?

The joy on the chil­dren’s faces – nor­mally the pan­tomime gets peo­ple into the Christmas mood, so they are a lit­tle ex­citable.

8 And what’s the worst?

I do find the beard rather tickly, just be­hind the soot from the chim­neys.

9 What is the best ex­pe­ri­ence you’ve had as Santa?

Last year we had a 80th birth­day party and the smile on the gen­tle­man’s face when I gave him a present was price­less, it shows you can have the Christmas spirit at any age.

10 Have you ever fallen in?

Not yet but one of the staff is des­per­ate for me to slip off the back of a boat.

11 Have you ever dropped the presents in the canal?

Our Elves work re­ally hard tak­ing the presents into the Cav­erns we fill our trip boats with… and we have oc­ca­sion­ally lost one or two.

12 How does Santa get presents down a nar­row­boat’s chim­ney?

None of our boats are cov­ered as they have to fit into a very tight tun­nel and they all run from bat­ter­ies so we don’t have to get down a chim­ney.

13 Who would be your ideal cruis­ing com­pan­ion?

Don’t tell Ru­dolph, but my wife is best.

14 What do the chil­dren on the cut want for Christmas this year?

I think like ev­ery year, great fun, ex­cite­ment and lots of sur­prises.

15 What do you want your­self for Christmas?

I am a man of sim­ple plea­sures, so my mum’s mince pies and Christmas cake washed down with a lovely cup of tea.

16 Why makes a Christmas at the Dud­ley Cav­erns mag­i­cal?

If you have never been, we are a very unique at­trac­tion. We dress the tun­nels with lights and dec­o­ra­tions and as they are so dark, the tun­nels re­ally glit­ter and sparkle. Then we have a pan­tomime in one of the cav­erns, then it’s off to Santa’s grotto and out on the boat singing Christmas Car­ols. It re­ally is some­thing spe­cial.

17 What do you think of peo­ple on our rivers and canals?

They are al­ways friendly and, due to the pace of life on the canals, have time to chat.

18 Tell us about your spare time in­ter­ests…

I like noth­ing bet­ter af­ter a hard day to put my feet up and re­lax. I have been known to take a cy­cle down the tow­path or just a walk, the wildlife and peo­ple you meet are tre­men­dous.

19 What pre­vi­ous jobs have you had?

All of my work­ing life was spent work­ing for brew­eries and pub com­pa­nies un­til I left to join the Trust. It’s sim­i­lar work, deal­ing with cus­tomers and mem­bers of the public.

20 What su­per­power would you most like?

I would love to be able to con­trol the weather. We could stop the rain on the canal when we send out trips, hol­i­days would al­ways be great and trav­el­ling in the win­ter wouldn’t be so dif­fi­cult.

‘The joy on the chil­dren’s faces’ SANTA at Dud­ley Cav­erns

Christmas fun at Dud­ley Cav­erns

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