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Vic House: Village's Father Christmas was one of its most colourful characters

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Vic House, who regularly played Father Christmas, helped launch the Highcliffe Charity Players
Vic House, who regularly played Father Christmas, helped launch the Highcliffe Charity Players

HIGHCLIFFE has lost one of its best known and most colourful characters with death of Vic House.

For many years he played the village’s Father Christmas and was also instrumental in setting up Highcliffe Charity Players and later Highcliffe Musical Society which raised thousands of pounds for good causes.

Vic was born in Carshalton, Surrey, and his mum was a beautician for Elizabeth Arden and often did the make-up for the late Queen mother. His father was a cosmetic chemist.

At the age of four he was evacuated from London to Leicester with his parents and brother Richard to escape the German bombing during the Second World War.

Vic grew up in the area and after leaving school at 15 he got a job at the Theatre Royal in Leicester as an apprentice stage manager, which began his love for the professional stage.

He completed his two years of national service and then went to RADA in London to train in musical theatre and stage make up. There he was involved in many Rogers and Hammerstein musicals such as Carousel.

Vic House was born in Carshalton, Surrey
Vic House was born in Carshalton, Surrey

However, as much as he loved the theatre, he completely changed direction and joined the RAF for 14 years as a medic. He was stationed in Germany at the RAF hospital in Wegberg, he then spent the rest of his RAF career in Bassingbourn in Cambridgeshire, before being accepted to do his registered nurse training at nearby RAF Ely.

During this time his creative side never left him and he was granted permission to create a portrait of the Queen which was accepted and hung in RAF Bassingbourn. It now hangs in the Royal British Legion in Christchurch.

Vic met his beloved wife Jenny who was undertaking her registered nurse training at RAF hospital Ely.

They were engaged when they left RAF in 1969; Jenny went back to Wales and Vic went on to be entertainments manager at Butlins in Skegness.

In 1971 they both moved to Highcliffe so Vic could be near his elderly parents.

He and best friends Tony Smith and Joan Stone founded the hugely successful Highcliffe Charity Players. Their first show was Robinson Crusoe and the group is still famed for its annual panto and other productions.

Jenny and Vic married in 1972 and the following year daughter Sharon was born, followed by her sister Lisa in 1979.

Sharon said: “Dad was so in love with mum and worshipped the ground she walked on. He was also the proudest and most dedicated dad. He adored us, as we did him, and he always told us how much he loved us every day and we continued to tell him he was the greatest dad in the world.”

He later enjoyed being a grandfather to Jessica, Ben, Millie and Scarlett.

In 1979 Vic started the Highcliffe Musical Society, raising money for local charities. These were no ordinary amateur dramatics productions being outstandingly lavish and on a par with any professional shows.

The society performed Annie, Sound of Music, The King and I, Oliver and many more favorites. Their home was the Playhouse theatre in Bournemouth and they were so popular everyone wanted to be in a Vic House production.

Vic was also famous for being a superb Father Christmas, playing the role all over the world since the age of 15 when he was a Sunday school teacher. He loved taking part in local festive celebrations, bringing Christmas magic to thousands of children right up until he was 81.

In 2016 he was given a Meritorious Award by Christchurch Borough Council in recognition of his “significant and selfless commitment made over 30 years to local and charitable causes”.

Vic died peacefully the day after his 84th birthday.

Sharon said: “The tributes have been overwhelming - he was loved and respected by the whole community and beyond. We are so grateful people are as proud of him as we are.”

The funeral will be held at Bournemouth Crematorium on Wednesday 27th November at 12.30pm. No flowers but donations can towards the new Macmillan unit at Christchurch or The Royal British Legion Christchurch branch in Bargates.

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