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Santa’s emergency

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By Tom Hanley
Dumfries and West
Santa's emergency

PICTURE the scene: a nativity play at a Dalbeattie care home had just ended and the children began to sing 'Santa Claus Is Coming To Town'.

However, just before Santa could emerge to hand out presents, his bleeper went off, and he dashed out to fight a fire.
Dalbeattie butcher Norman Neilson, who doubles as a retained firefighter, stripped off his white beard and red costume as he ran from the Alma McFadyen Care Centre to answer an alarm call last Thursday.
He said: “I was sorry to have to disappoint the people waiting for me, but the emergency had to come first.
“I just stripped off my Santa outfit and a member of staff held the door open for me to fly out. I’m afraid Rudolph wasn’t waiting, so I just jumped into my car.”
Retained firefighter Norman, 57, rushed to the station, just a few hundred yards away from the care home, and joined his crew members to answer the call-out to Threave Gardens in Castle Douglas.
He added: “It ended up as a false alert after somebody accidentally broke the glass in the fire alarm. It wasn’t very good timing, but it’s something you just have to accept when you are a retained firefighter.”
Luckily, Christmas was saved as care home activities co-ordinator Jade Borrett quickly stepped into Santa’s boots and costume and began to hand out presents.
Staff had staged their own nativity play for residents, relatives and friends, with senior carer Michelle Stitt as Mary and Kate Collins, a care assistant, as Joseph.
The homes lounge was packed with around 50 in the audience, and a raffle raised £120 to take the residents out for a Christmas lunch.
Manager Leanna Mitchell said: “It was a brilliant night and the play was very emotional for the audience, who really appreciated the effort that our staff had put into the event.
“Then everyone was waiting as we sang, his bleeper went off.”

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