• Eskdale Academy

Rudolph visits Hartlepool to make Christmas dreams come true

Children could not contain their excitement when a reindeer paid a flying visit.

With Christmas now just two weeks away, pupils at Eskdale Academy in Hartlepool got the rare chance to see and stroke the beautiful animal.

A lot of the smaller children thought Oslow was one of Santa’s reindeer adding to the magic of the surprise. Elizabeth Killeen, headteacher at Eskdale Academy, said: “The children had an amazing morning with a lovely reindeer.

“The whole school had the opportunity to feed him and experience what it is like to look after a reindeer.

“Here at Eskdale we endeavour to give our children the ‘Awe & Wonder’ experiences through our broad and balanced curriculum.”

The school did not tell the children of the visit until the actual day. A similar visit was arranged last year.

Ms Killeen added: “We thought it would be a surprise.

“Their reaction was phenomenal, they were just so excited. It was quite magical, especially for the little ones.

“They though it was Santa’s reindeer. They weren’t scared at all because he was quite a big animal.

“Their behaviour was excellent, as was his. Even the staff were excited! “It is all part of getting the school into he Christmas spirit.”

As well as being huge fun, the visit also proved educational with Oslow’s handler George Richardson explaining how to look after him. Ms Killeen added: “He explained what they eat and about the importance of hygiene of washing your hands before and after touching Oslow.”

The visit was arranged through Rent A Reindeer in the small village of Cold Hesledon, in County Durham, where Santa and his reindeer live in the run up to Christmas. It is home to the largest breeding herd of reindeer in the North of England.

They are in demand and make public appearances around the country at fetes, grotto openings, Christmas events, private parties and are even available for TV and photographic work.

Rent A Reindeer are founding members of the British Reindeer Herders Association. The Christmas fun continues at Eskdale Academy this week with performances of three nativities. And next Thursday afternoon, the school is holding an outdoor carol service.