‘Remarkable’ Santa Claus impersonator dies on Christmas Day as tributes flood in

A 'remarkable real-life' Santa Claus has left his family heartbroken after he passed away on Christmas Day.

Rhod Maclennan, of Northumberland, was adored for his festive appearances as Father Christmas during the festive season.

The “larger than life” actor delighted families with his role – and even worked on Zoom in the weeks leading up to his death.

He called youngsters dressed as St Nick to bring them some joy after what has been a torrid year.

But sadly, Rhod passed away on Christmas Day aged 68, having celebrated with wife Sue and granddaughter Jade Crawford.

It followed a battle with cancer, having been diagnosed back in June, Chronicle Live reported.

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Rhod's wife Sue said: "He was just such a larger than life character, and the world is definitely a darker place without him in it. Only Rhod could have chosen Christmas Day to depart, and he's made sure he'll never be forgotten. Christmas is Rhod's day now: people will be dressing up as Santa and eating good food, and thinking of him.

"He was very much of the view that life is for living, and he wouldn't want Jade and I to be upset. Of course we are missing him terribly, but there's not a single thing you can think of about Rhod that doesn't make you smile, that doesn't have joy in it.

"He was the perfect Santa – kids always loved him because he was a big kid himself – and he would convince even adults that they'd met the real thing.

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"He brought so much joy to so many people, and reading the messages on social media it's quite overwhelming to see that he's touched so many lives."

The actor, who also appeared as an extra in the likes of Vera and the film Beowulf, was much-loved, not only by friends and neighbours in the North East, but by hundreds of people around the world who followed him online, and who said his jokes brightened up their day.

After his death, Rhod's family were inundated with messages from as far apart as Russia and the USA, from people who said he had touched their lives despite never having met him in person.

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An adventurous and funny man who "lived life to the full", Rhod "really threw himself into everything he did", Sue said.

A dog lover, he was well known for running 'Northern Doodles', a local labradoodle group, and could regularly be seen at Blyth beach walking his own four dogs.

Always determined to focus on the positives in life, Rhod kept his battle with cancer intensely private, insisting he didn't want the disease to define him.

His family say they are proud that he managed to keep bringing festive cheer as Santa right up to the end of his life.

Rhod's granddaughter Jade, 22, added: "He was just like no other. He pushed people to be their absolute best and brought the best out in everyone. We've had hundreds of messages from all over the world from people saying how much he meant to them.

"He just loved life, he took every opportunity to do something unusual or go somewhere unusual. He was a remarkable, remarkable man, and I would be happy in my life if I could do half as much good or bring half as much happiness as he did."

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