Chippenham vicar says sorry for Santa gaffe
Chippenham vicar the Rev Simon Tatton-Brown has said he is sorry he made children doubt Santa Claus.
Parents of children at Charter School were incensed because they said Canon Tatton-Brown, vicar of St Andrew’s Church, questioned Father Christmas’ existence in a school assembly last Wednesday.
The Church of England vicar, who is due to retire at the end of the month after 13 Christmases at the helm of St Andrew’s, said he can’t recall exactly what he said but he has admitted he made a mistake.
He had to abandon his prepared talk because of a technical glitch, and spoke without notes.
In his talk he told the children, who range in age from five to 11, about St Nicholas who, according to gruesome legend, brought back to life three children who were killed by an evil butcher and placed in a barrel to be cured and sold as ham.
He is also rumoured to have dropped a gift down a poor family’s chimney, which happened to land in a stocking hung up to dry by the fire.
When the full horror of some of the parents transpired, he offered a humble and unreserved apology for his blunder, which it is feared may have crushed the magic of stockings and Rudolph for the youngsters.
Canon Tatton-Brown, 65, said: “I didn’t intend to upset anyone or to dispel children’s beliefs in Santa Claus, but I accept I was wrong.”
Some mums have pulled their children from the school’s Christmas concert at St Andrew’s as a result.
He said: “I understand that they’re disappointed.
“I got it wrong. It wasn’t intentional.
“I can’t undo it.”
He said his biggest concern was the children’s Christmases being spoilt.
Those in reception class, aged four, were not part of the assembly.
The vicar wrote to the headteacher, Sarah Flack, on Friday to apologise. His letter reads: “I was very sorry to hear of the trouble following my assembly on Wednesday.
“I talked about St Nicholas, and the stories about him, which tell us why Santa Claus brings gifts at Christmas. “I am sorry if this was misunderstood. “I fully support parents who want their young children to enjoy the Christmas stories, including Father Christmas, and I had no intention of undermining their belief in the reality of Santa Claus.”
Headteacher Mrs Flack said she accepted his apology. She said children had made comments to their parents at home but the school was looking forward to moving on and would still be using St Andrew’s for their carol service and would welcome a vicar at next year’s assembly.
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