Wanted: a dog-loving Santa for north Norfolk store

A spot of beard-tugging by a curious tot is about the worst aspect of the job for most store Father Christmases.

But a north Norfolk shop is looking for a Santa who's prepared to put up with occasional dirty great licks around the ear from visitors to his grotto.

And he may even have to be brave enough to keep the 'ho, ho, hos' going as beloved snakes and spiders are presented to him for a chat.

Sheringham store Claws N Paws is appealing for a pet-friendly Santa to join them on November 27, the day of the town's Christmas lights switch-on.

Owners Helen and Ian Sidell believe their pets' Christmas grotto will be the first in Norfolk, if not England, and they're hoping visitors will bring along dogs, cats and other safely-contained animals to meet Santa Claws and receive an appropriate gift.

'There will be carrots for rabbits, lettuce for tortoises, a cricket for a spider - that sort of thing,' said Mrs Sidell.

Dogs will receive either a bottle of malt extract 'beer' or chocolate 'cigars'.

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A visit to Santa will be free, but donations will be invited for animal charity the PDSA.

And the day, from 10am to 4pm, will include competitions to find the scruffiest mutt, poshest puss and most exotic pet, with prizes of �50 vouchers to spend in the shop and �50 to donate to an animal charity of the winning owner's choice.

'The town is taking a great deal of trouble over the Christmas lights, which will have a panto theme. We usually do something for charity and we thought this might draw more people in,' said Mrs Sidell.

Shop visitors on the day will find staff dressed as characters from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, with the Sidells' daughter Hannah, seven, in the title role and three, six foot-plus members of Claws N Paws staff among her entourage of 'little' helpers.

Anyone interested in the Santa role can contact the shop on 01263 825070.