A SANTA Claus lookalike who has proudly groomed his beard for 42 years has had his whiskers shaved off to help a youngster.
Arthur Snowdon’s former neighbour in Peterlee, Adam Butterfield, two, has Emanuel Syndrome, a chromosome abnormality which has already seen him taken into hospital up to 12 times a year.
Arthur, 62, whose likeness to Father Christmas is often commented on, has joined a campaign to raise money to help make life easier for him.
He has shaved off the beard he first grew in 1969 and hopes to have raised at least £600 for Adam, of Gloucester Place, Peterlee.
His parents, Nicola McAllister, 35, and John Butterfield, 39, were told he could suffer heart seizures, kidney failure, asphyxiation, severe mental health problems and an inability to walk or talk.
Arthur, of Brecon Close, Peterlee, said: “When I worked on the buses they called me Santa Claus.
“I do feel like Santa Claus for Adam – I’m really over the moon to have raised this money for him.
“He is a brilliant little lad and I have known him since he was born.
“It was all worth it for a bairn like that.”
Arthur revealed he has something in common with Adam. He suffered from polio as a youngster and could not walk until he was aged about six. He still sometimes walks with a stick.
He said: “There’s nothing wrong with me compared to that little bairn.”
He added that he was due to appear as Santa Claus at a care home in the Owton Manor area of Hartlepool, but may now have to wear a false beard.
He said he wanted to grow the beard back because his wife, Maureen, 58, didn’t like seeing him without it.
The grandfather-of-seven said he started out with a “Jason King” handlebar moustache when he was about 18, and his beard went on from there as “he just couldn’t be bothered to shave”.
It began to turn white when he was in his early 30s.
Nicola, who used to work for Stockton Borough Council, and John, who works for Barclays Bank, lived next door to Arthur and Maureen before the couple had to move to accommodate Adam’s condition.
The money raised will go towards a lift to Adam’s bedroom.
Nicola said: “I can’t really put into words how thankful we are.
“I think Arthur has done an amazing thing for our Adam, and to shave off a beard he has had for 42 years takes a lot of courage.”
Anyone who would like to sponsor Arthur can contact him on 0798 320 1659.