Congratulations to our much-loved colleague Gill Chambers who's going to become Mrs Christmas when she gets married on Christmas Eve!
Gill and her fiance Dave Christmas love the festive season so much that they put their decorations up in September and even build a grotto in their front room – a tradition they started three years ago when Dave was ill following a heart attack, stroke and pneumonia and feared he may not be able to enjoy the big day.
But he's made a great recovery and asked Gill, who works in the cash office at our St Leonards-on-Sea store, to marry him earlier this year.
Lockdown restrictions meant their wedding was postponed, and the couple were offered December 24 as a date when they could tie the knot. Gill said: "The family said to us 'who gets married on Christmas Eve?' and we said 'Well, Mr and Mrs Christmas of course!' I think it's going to be quite cute and romantic to be honest. I'm really looking forward to being called Mrs Christmas.
"It's jolly – especially at this time of year. Colleagues keep coming up to me now and say 'hello Mrs Christmas'! It puts a smile on people's faces which is a good thing."
Dave, who's 56, changed his name by deed poll earlier this year. Gill, who's 53, said: "Dave has always, always loved Christmas. He's been fascinated by it since he was a child.
"He had a heart attack three years ago and also a stroke and pneumonia. It was touch and go for a time. When he got home he was very solemn and he said 'I don't think I'm going to make Christmas this year, can we have an early one?' So we decorated early and since then we always decorate in September."
Their grotto's a big hit – "One of my grand-daughters always comes in and says 'it's like the North Pole in here!" said Gill.
The couple have five children and nine grandchildren between them. They met 11 years ago.
Gill, who's worked at the store for eight years, said: "Dave used to be a car salesman and he had a customer who was actually called Mr Christmas and he was in awe of his name. He kept saying 'I need to change my name, I need to change my name.'
"Then in January this year he decided he was going to actually do it, so he went down to the register office and changed his name from Fitzer to Christmas. And about three or four weeks later he said 'come on let's get married!'
"He always plays Father Christmas at our local pub and he loves that and we have just been asked by a lady if he could could round to her doorstep and play Santa for her three children. He will do anything to put smiles on people's faces. He just loves Christmas!"
The store's community champion Wendy Border says everyone at the store is delighted for Gill.
She said: "We are all so happy for Gill and Dave here at St Leonards and wish them well. They are so Santa-orientated. It's going to be real fun calling out Mrs Christmas over the Tannoy.
"Gill is really down to earth and easy going. She will bend over backwards to help anyone – she's a real all-rounder. She's full of fun and comes out of the cash office and dances about. Everyone loves her. We had a Christmas jumper day recently and she even came as Santa Claus!"