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Getting ready for Santa deer feeds at Port Talbot’s Margam Park

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: December 13, 2012

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DEER oh deer ... getting Santa’s little helpers ready to meet their public is a right old song and Dancer.

Every year Father Christmas turns up at Margam Park to feed the deer, and every year the sessions attract big crowds.

This year is no exception, with school trips starting yesterday and continuing today and tomorrow, before opening to the public from Saturday to Monday.

But while visitors get a kick from seeing the wildlife and Santa up close, preparing for the sessions is a lot of hard work.

Park manager Michael Wynne explained: “We have to get the deer trained in advance by feeding them at 11am every day so they get used to it.

“At this time of the year we do give them supplementary feeds so we use that to entice them towards the front of the castle.

“That way, when the Santa sessions take place, people can get a really good view.”

Even when the training’s done and the Santa feeds take place for real, there is still a lot of work to be done ensuring everything goes off smoothly.

“Perhaps half a dozen people will be involved in total,” said Mr Wynne.

“Apart from Santa, there is the driver and Santa’s helper, who sits in the back of the vehicle and gives Father Christmas a hand.

“Santa cannot do everything himself. He has to do the deer feeding and wave to the children and all the rest of it. He has to be a multi-functioning Santa these days.”

Anyone fancying a visit to see this year’s public feeding sessions will have to get their skates on as Saturday and Sunday are both sold out and only a small number of tickets remain for Monday.

For health and safety reasons, each session is limited to 170 tickets, though as there is one ticket per car, anything up to 500 people at a time will attend.

“We could put on more and sell them out too,” said Mr Wynne. “But it is very resource-heavy in terms of staff.”

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