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Santa (aka Robert), Westfield Chatswood

“I first became a Santa 15 years ago when I had just finished working as a teacher. There’s a Santa school that I saw advertised – it’s where we learn how to be good Santas. I worked at the QVB for 5 years; this year I’ve moved to Westfield Chatswood for the first time. My beard is real – it’s one of the things that sets me apart from other Santas I think. And as a former teacher I’ve had a lot of experience with kids. Plus I genuinely love the job. The best part for me is having the kids come in and seeing their imaginations working overtime. Fielding the questions can be tricky. With requests for live animals I explain that the sleigh goes up so high that it can be scary for the animals. For iPads and MacBook Pros, which are some of the most requested presents these days, I joke that Apple doesn’t like me affecting their profits! You get the criers and the screamers, but you also get the occasional visitor that really tugs at the heartstrings. I tear up just thinking about them sometimes. I’ve had requests for Santa to bring back a mother who recently passed away, and requests for divorced parents to get back together. I think of it a bit as counselling in those moments. For me, the North Pole is located in Bali – I’ve lived there for the past few years. I do the season here and head home on Christmas Eve. Then it’s time to party!”