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Santa gets the sack

Oxford Mail: Siblings Ryan, Amy and Katie Kennett with the Santa Claus who was dismissed from Notcutts garden centre Siblings Ryan, Amy and Katie Kennett with the Santa Claus who was dismissed from Notcutts garden centre

A SANTA has been sacked after allegedly telling children about the US school massacre before revealing he was not the real Father Christmas.

The Kennett family, from Abingdon, had hoped for a festive day out at Notcutts garden centre in Nuneham Courtenay. But mum Wendy said it turned into the “worst day of her life” and left her three children in tears.

The 33-year-old mum-of-three and her husband Steven took their children – Ryan, 10, Amy, seven, and Katie, six – to visit Santa on Saturday.

She said her children, who all attend Rush Common School in Abingdon, told Santa they had been good this year.

But she said he replied: “Well there are bad people in the world and bad things happen, like what happened to those children in America.”

She added he had just started telling the children more about what had happened in America, and assuming he was talking about the Sandy Hook school shooting, Mr Kennett interrupted.

Mrs Kennett said the Santa then asked the two girls to leave so he could “have a word with their brother”.

After whispering something to Ryan, which his parents could not hear, she said the 10-year-old ran out crying that the man had said something unkind about Father Christmas.

The two girls were stood next to their parents listening at the time.

Mrs Kennett, who paid £5.99 per child, said: “I was totally furious. I now had three children in tears.”

Notcutts spokesman Jim Hawker said: “We have accepted the customers’ version of events and have dismissed the Santa, apologised and refunded the family.”

He added the firm had also bought them tickets to Winter Wonderland in London.

He said: “The individual has been dismissed from the position and replaced with another Santa for the festive period. Notcutts certainly feel this was an error of judgment on behalf of the individual.”

He added the Santa in question had worked at the centre for a number of years and had not attracted any other complaints.

Mrs Kennett said she went to the manager to ask that the Santa be sacked on the spot, but he was kept on for the rest of the day.

Mr Hawker added: “There was a massive queue of children waiting to see Santa and we did not want to disappoint them.”

But that was not the end of the story. To console their children – after hours of trying to restore their faith in Santa – Mr and Mrs Kennett took them to the Tandem Hungry Horse restaurant in Kennington for a meal.

But Mrs Kennett said a children’s entertainer at the restaurant told the children Santa did not waste his time reading their letters.

She said when the children told the balloon artist they had written to Santa, he said: “That was a waste of time.

“Santa is my best friend, we went skiing last weekend and he told me that he doesn’t bother reading letters because he has got better things to do.”

By this point, Mrs Kennett said the children were so shaken up they did not feel like eating and the family left the restaurant and went back home to Abingdon.

Hungry Horse spokesman Amy Golledge said: “Hungry Horse is saddened and disappointed to hear our young diners had been upset by a hired entertainer, especially so close to Christmas.”

She said the Kennett family had been offered a complimentary meal.

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