Britain's oldest Father Christmas opens Santa school after 48 year career in the famous suit

"I just loved seeing the surprise and happiness I could bring to people"

Being Father Christmas isn't just about shaking your belly like a bowl full of jelly.

Ron Horniblew, Britain's longest-serving Santa, knows a lot about being Kris Kringle. At 77 years old he has been spreading Christmas cheer all over the world for the past 48 years and now has decided it is time to pass on his knowledge at a younger generation at his school for Santas.

Nicknamed Santa Ron, he has won awards for his festive work and traveling to the Bahamas, Sweden and other countries for his work.

He said: "I just loved seeing the surprise and happiness I could bring to people.

"On Christmas morning I visit lots of different families I leave around 7.30 in the morning and I'm home in time for my Christmas dinner at 2.30 in the afternoon."

Ron, from Luton, first dressed up as Santa to surprise his son, Graham, in 1964. He enjoyed it so much he is constantly in the famous red suit during the festive season.

He first put on the hat and trousers for his friend's children. It was not long before he began to visit grottos and use his jolly demeanour to raise money for charity, balancing his festive hobby with a factory job, from which he has now retired.

He attended Santa conferences and competitions in Norway and Denmark and was awarded the World's Best Santa in 2004.

But the moment he will always treasure was when he visited the Bahamas. He was invited to the sunny climes to visit a friend but couldn't resist putting on the Santa suit for orphaned children.

He said: "The highlight of my career has to be seeing the smiles on the faces of the children I visited at an orphanage in the Bahamas.

"They were the most fantastic children I've ever came across, they were so loving and appreciative."

For his years of service, Ron received the highest honour when he was awarded a 40 Year Service award and is one of the only British Santa's entitled to wear the official Santa badge after receiving authorisation from Santa Claus of Greenland.

Santa Ron still dresses as Father Christmas despite retiring from formal competitions but will dedicate his time to his own Santa school, ready to launch in 2013, ensuring his skills and knowledge will be passed on.

He said: "I take my job as Santa very seriously, it isn't just about dressing up in a red suit and saying 'Ho Ho Ho!

"Being Santa is about about listening to the children and making them feel special.

"You have to be as excited and enthusiastic with the last child you see on a day as you were with the first. It's important you don't wain.

"It's jolly hard work you have to make sure each child leaves thinking Father Christmas is wonderful.

"A good Santa mustn't use bad language and should never smoke or drink in their suit, there's nothing worse than a smelly Santa."