FATHER Christmas is preparing for a busy overnight shift this Christmas with Newport Bus.

There have been numerous sightings of Mr Christmas, from the North Pole, welcoming passengers aboard a festive bus.

Raymond “Santa” Dawes has been a Newport Bus driver since February 2022 and part-time Santa for more than three decades.

In his previous life as a school caretaker in Cwmbran, he was asked by the local church to fill in for an absent Father Christmas by donning the suit.

Little did he know those clothes would become a way of life.

Within two days, Mr Dawes was asked if he would bring his Father Christmas to the local nursery. Two weeks later, he had received multiple “Santa gigs”.

Taking a note from the real Saint Nick, he started working at a community farm eleven months of the year and dug up the red suit each December.

He greeted more than 500 children per day in the farmhouse grotto, along with the donkeys, and visited village fairs and parties when he got the chance.

Someone approached Mr Dawes at work about being a bus driver for First Bus, and he worked there for seven years, greeting customers in a red waistcoat and tie.

During the pandemic, Mr Dawes decided to apply for Newport Bus, where he is allowed to take annual leave for the entirety of December to become the “man in the red suit”.

This month, Santa Dawes has more than 110 Christmas commitments – and counting – whether home visits, grotto appearances or Christmas markets.

South Wales Argus: Mr Dawes has more than 100 Christmas commitments this month

“Not only does his family love it, but Raymond finds dressing up as Santa and putting a smile on children’s faces one of the most rewarding tasks he could possibly do,” said Newport Bus.

“Funnily enough, he finds that the adult’s excitement can sometimes be even more magical!”

Almost all the money he takes is donated to charity and Santa Dawes always donates a “large number of toys” to Pride in Pill MBE’s donation box.

A spokesperson for Newport Bus said Santa Dawes has “no desire to take off his Santa hat any time soon” and is already planning when to shave and re-grow his beard for Christmas 2024.