In war-torn Britain, the Liverpool Blitz dropped on sheltered communities of Merseyside the devastating bombs of the German Luftwaffe. In the midst of destruction one man stood for love, compassion and most of all magic. John Gilmour my grandfather walked down the debris filled streets of a once beautiful and thriving community with one goal. To return the magic of Christmas to the children who otherwise had lost everything; left behind in the great evacuation.
Pushing a home-made cart John dressed as Father Christmas gave out presents to children of the community who we’re in desperate circumstances, and even though he could not prevent their prolonged suffering brought about by the destruction of war. John Gilmour gave them hope and magic through gifts and captivating stories that would spell-bound the children of the neighbourhood.
He was my grandfather; and for as long as I can remember I too was captivated by the magic he weaved. For it became a family tradition to spread the beauty of magic to the people who needed it the most. On my Grandfather’s passing his son; James Gilmour JR my father’s brother took on the mantle of Farther Christmas in the 1960’s with the same goal.
There was to be however something more with my Uncle Jimmy’s magic as Father Christmas; although he never married, and never had children of his own. Uncle Jim spellbound thousands of children every year through the ‘Dear Santa Letter Service’ a free service where children could write to Santa Claus and received a personal penned reply from the great-beard man himself (Uncle Jimmy).
To add to this he started the ‘Dial-A-Santa Service’ where children could call-up Farther Christmas himself with their Christmas Wish List.
But to make this happen Uncle Jimmy needed a Santa’s Secret Workshop but considering British Telecom did not have phone lines stretching to the North Pole. With Santa himself also already having a workshop there, Uncle Jimmy decided to create his Santa’s Grotto in Wavertree, Liverpool a joke shop aptly called “The North Pole”. An all year round grotto where children could visit and experience the magic of Christmas. He also recorded a vinyl record of his Christmas message to cater for the visually-impaired children; so they too could experience the magic of Christmas.
In 1987 the family legacy of weaving the magic of Christmas passed to myself but unlike my predecessors I was the first woman to take up this mantle handed down through the generations. I became Elf Pipkin – Santa’s Secretary, and continued my Uncle Jimmy’s ‘Dear Santa Letter Service’ answering over 20,000 children’s letters a year all addressed to the jolly man himself.
Elf Pipkin had a lot of work and it was no easy task to complete but with the help from other elves we managed to continue the tradition that my Grandfather started forty-seven years earlier.
Santa’s Secret Office moved its location from Wavertree to the seaside town of Lytham St. Annes, Lancashire (technically more north than Wavertree). A house where you would see all year round elves coming and going and outside a huge glowing statue of Santa Claus stood in the front garden.
And the magic of Christmas didn’t stop at the doorstep of the Secret Office. The powerful energy of Love swept through the little northern town by the Sea. Grown-up’s came together, and the town Mayor with all the local shops joined in with a ‘Santa Parade.’
Large empty boxes were placed in the shops – as the countdown to Christmas began. The community brought either used quality toys that were no longer being used or purchased new toys, and placed them into the boxes. Then on the last Saturday before Christmas day – Santa and his elves collected the boxes, singing merrily as they worked away, and interacting with the shop-keepers and their customers.
With the help of the elves, local children wrapped the toys, and they were sent off to children’s charities.
Weaving Christmas magic and sending Love – all the way from Lytham, St. Annes – the little town where dreams came true…..
Text From The Book
“For my part in the family tradition, I was limited in what I could do. I didn’t have my Uncle Jim’s deep, velvety voice that excited a mesmerised child on the other end of the telephone, and my female appearance didn’t create a convincing Santa Claus look.
Uncle Jim mulled over the problem, and within a matter of minutes he had found the solution.
“I know who you can be,” he announced cheerfully, the sparkling glint of excitement returning to his eyes, “You can be my Secretary!”
At first, I wasn’t over-enthusiastic at the thought of just being a Secretary. It sounded so ordinary in such a beautiful world of magic, but I should have known better. My Uncle Jim did not do ordinary.
“You’ll make an absolutely wonderful Elf!” he grinned, sketching out his vision of the new me with custom-made pointed ears, and dressed in a green costume complete with yellow bobbles and silver bells. And that was the beginning of my role as Santa’s Secretary – the strict and extremely bossy Elf Pipkin.
To learn more about my Story – please see my book – ‘A Journey of Actual Death Experiences’ available now.