Santa takes a trimming

Al Paterson has a chilly chin.

Santa (aka Al Paterson) loses his winter fur

Santa (aka Al Paterson) loses his winter fur

Al Paterson has a chilly chin.

The man well-known as a Santa’s helper, who plays the role each December, whacked his whiskers off to support the Victoria Hospice Society.

He appeared as Santa with a “ho, ho, ho” and jingle of bells, led by Town Crier Kenny Podmore clanging his bell as well. Then, with Victoria Airport Authority firefighter (and hairdresser) Anna-marie Olson wielding the clippers, Paterson first sported a mohawk, then lost his chin hairs in an event at the airport arrivals rotunda.

“It’ll get cold real quick,” he said as the trimming finished.

Paterson is a dedicated supporter of the hospice society and has been since losing his wife Sharon to colon cancer in 2009. A long time commissionaire at the Victoria International Airport, the chief warrant officer makes a number of appearances at various children’s events, senior homes, and malls over the holiday season and donates all proceeds of his visits to the hospice. This year he raised $1,100 at the airport and added $1,000 through other holiday functions.

“The Victoria Hospice Society Palliative Care staff and volunteers aided immensely during my wife’s illness and I will always be grateful to them. This is my small contribution towards their great work and to honour the memory of Sharon,” Paterson said.

About 50 per cent of Victoria Hospice’s annual operating costs are not covered by the health care system, and must be funded through community donations to the Victoria Hospice and Palliative Care Foundation.

“The initiative Al Paterson has taken on is commendable,” said Geoff Dickson, President and CEO of the Victoria Airport. “The Hospice Society brings comfort and care to those who are truly in need.”

Before the clipping began, Paterson had raised $800-plus just through his coworkers at the airport. Many bystanders added bills to Santa’s sack at the event.

“The folks here at the airport have been just outstanding,” Paterson said.

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