SANTA’S son came up trumps when he stepped in to cover for his father who had been unexpectedly called back to Lapland.

The great man was supposed to be visiting Ropley’s 20th annual Victorian Christmas market, which drew crowds of people to the parish hall to enjoy the festivities and browse a range of stalls selling an amazing array of crafts, gifts and edibles.

The hall had been beautifully decorated with hanging Christmas trees made by Tim Day and the much-admired newly-created Christmas bunting made by four local residents: Jan Howarth, Karen Williams, Stella Kenny and Karen Jones.

The local Brownies entertained with carols and there was to be a special visit from Santa for the children.

Instead, he sent his son, who is in training for ‘if and when’ Santa needs to retire.

Speaking on behalf of Ropley Fayre Committee, Norma Day said the son had proved “extremely popular” with the children, some of whom were looking forward to his visit to this Saturday’s Ropley School Christmas Fair.

She added: “Complimentary mulled wine and mince pies were on offer throughout the evening and everyone agreed this was an excellent start to the festive season.”