Santa marries his elf!

HE was playing Santa and she was his elf - and it was the start of an unlikely Christmas love story.

Elliot Furniss

HE was playing Santa and she was his elf - and it was the start of an unlikely Christmas love story.

Paul Drain and Gette Nash first met in the grotto when they were hired to play Santa and his elf at a department store in Colchester just over three years ago.

After falling for each other and getting engaged on Christmas Day 2007, they are now preparing to get married in six weeks' time.

Paul, 27, who grew up in Colchester and trained at a performing arts school in Clacton, met Gette, 32, when they were first paired up to play the popular Christmas characters at Williams and Griffin on Colchester High Street in 2005.

Gette, who is originally from Chester in Cheshire but now living with Paul near Clacton, said: “People genuinely think we're making it up.

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“We definitely won't be wearing our costumes on the wedding day though.”

Gette has had many years of experience in running kids clubs and dancing in holiday camp shows while Paul spent some years singing abroad on cruise ships.

As well as working for Williams and Griffin at Christmas time they also run mobile discos and perform at children's birthday parties.

Paul said: “We both love our jobs. It's very hard work as we are in the grotto every Saturday and Sunday right up until Christmas as well as our other jobs too - we have to make sure that we do all of our Christmas shopping early.

“But we thoroughly enjoy it and we're looking forward to our wedding and returning to Williams and Griffin at Christmas.”

As well as their role in handing out presents at the store's toy department, Paul and Gette also took the time over Christmas to visit sick youngsters at Colchester General Hospital's children's ward.

The pair are both signed to the same agency, Essex Entertainers, and after hitting it off during their first Christmas in the grotto in 2005, they had moved in together by their next stint in 2006.

Paul proposed a year later on Christmas Day 2007 and ever since the couple have been preparing to exchange their vows on March 7.

Sally Thomas, marketing manager for the store, said: “This is just a fantastic story we just wanted to tell everybody about it.

“We are very pleased for Paul and Gette and wish them a wonderful wedding day and all the best in married life.

“We look forward to seeing them back at the store in November 2009.”