FIREFIGHTERS saved Father Christmas when he got stuck in a chimney.
Click here to view our video of the Living Advent Calendar event.
The “rescue mission” was seen by a crowd of more than 100 people at Henley fire station in West Street.
The sketch was performed by eight retained members of the fire and rescue service, including one woman, on the second night of the Living Advent Calendar on Monday.
It was narrated by their former colleague Jason Evans and began when the door of the station opened and out stepped the “Shutts” family.
Nick Shuttleworth played the father, Terry “Teresa” Coupar the mother and Jack Hockley their “son”. The family were enjoying Christmas Eve in their living room when they heard a shout of “I’m stuck!”.
They went over to the drill tower, which had been mocked up as the fireplace, to investigate and all they could see was the red-suited legs of Father Christmas, who was played by Andy Gosby.
They tried to pull him down but they couldn’t prize him free, so “model-esque” Teresa called for the fire brigade.
Mr Evans explained that the firefighters were going to arrive in a “hi-tech super duper, streamlined, aerodynamic, energy efficient fire truck”.
A second door then opened to reveal the “truck” which was in fact a home-made miniature fire engine built on a trailer base.
Firefighters Paul Herrington, Alastair Letchford, Brian Fearn, Adam Summers and Anna Van Leemputten, wearing their full uniform, pushed the “truck” out of the garage and made siren noises.
After confirming that Father Christmas was stuck, they went about a “structured and organised plan” to free him. First they tried using rods but this failed so they took a ladder from the truck and tried to pull him out from the top of the “chimney”.
After a few minutes, Mr Evans exclaimed: “With his dignity just about still intact, the brave souls of Henley’s finest managed to rescue Santa from his perilous situation — using approved Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service extraction techniques.”
The crowd cheered when Father Christmas came down the ladder and hugged his saviours.
He then handed out presents to the children, including bookmarks and badges promoting fire safety.
Mr Evans ended the performance, saying: “Henley’s finest managed to save Christmas.”
Children were then given the chance to have a ride in the mini fire truck around the front of the station.
Jools Buckett, six, from Shiplake, said: “I really wish I could be a fireman.”
The performance, which was sponsored by the Argyll pub in Market Place, was the second time that the Henley firefighters have been involved in the calendar. Last year, they performed their own version of The 12 Days of Christmas.
Mr Letchford said: “It is good to engage the brigade with the community and we had a good laugh to be honest.”
Meanwhile, hundreds of people gathered in Market Place on Sunday night to watch the first act being revealed.
Glee Club UK, from Caversham and Twyford, wore tinsel and Santa hats for their performance, which began with a rendition of It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.
The group also performed Paul McCartney’s Pipes of Peace, a Christmas No 1in 1983, and Let It Snow and the audience was encouraged to dance along.
Julie Perigo, who created the calendar two years ago and chairs the Henley Partnership, and Henley Mayor Stefan Gawrysiak welcomed the crowds ahead of the performance.
They were joined by five-times Olympic skier Graham Bell who is an ambassador for watch company Bremont, which sponsored the night.
Ms Perigo said the calendar had gone “magnificently well” so far.
She said: “I think we have doubled our audiences this year. The first night we had over 200 people and the second over 100. It is so popular and people need to look at the locations and work out if they need to get there early.
“The feedback has been great and we have had families coming who have never been before.”
Tonight’s performance (Friday), is above Boutique 97 in Friday Street. The acts are then as follows: December 7 Leander Club; 8 Phyllis Court Club, off Marlow Road; 9 Stuart Turner, off Greys Road; 10 Shaun Dickens, Station Road; 11 Angel on the Bridge, Thames Side; 12 Best of Henley, Empstead Works, off Greys Road; 13 the Communications Group (The Hub), Station Road; 14 Henley Youth Centre, Deanfield Avenue; 15 The Bull, Bell Street; 16 Hotel du Vin, New Street; 17 The Henley College, Deanfield Avenue; 18 Simmons & Sons, Bell Street; 19 Delegate, Hart Street; 20 Lovibonds, Market Place; 21 Market Place; 22 Market Place; 23 Kenton Theatre, New Street; 24 St Mary’s Church, Hart Street.
Each performance is free to view but there are collections in aid of the Henley Youth Centre, the Regatta for the Disabled, Fourbirdsaboating and the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal.
There is also a raffle each night and Living Advent Calendar beanie hats are on sale for £2 each.