AS I stood in Santa’s grotto wearing a red and green elf outfit, I could see how hard the team at the Brunel Shopping Centre were working to deliver Christmas cheer.

I was having a go at being an elf in the town centre grotto, where about 200 children are expected to visit today.

Instead of making toys in Santa’s workshop, an elf’s duty includes greeting the children and asking them their name and age to make sure they get the appropriate present from Father Christmas.

Fellow elf, Hollie Delphin, 19, of Lyneham, said: “When the kids go in they light up and get all happy.

“You have helped make their day happier and all the parents are happier too.

“It’s nice at the end when some of the kids come up and hug Santa, that’s really cute.

“Being an elf is the best job I have had, I love it.”

The wooden grotto is filled with toys and Christmas decorations which are sure to get everyone in the Christmas mood.

Santa and the elves have seen between 30 and 80 children visiting on weekdays, with about 400 children visiting each weekend.

Santa, who is also known as Steve Penny, of Rodbourne, said: “The elves bring the children in and find out their names.

“The children come and sit next to me and we have a chat.

“I find out what they want for Christmas and find out whether they have been a good boy or a good girl. This year the children have been asking for iPads, iPods and laptops.

“They have also been asking for dollies and batman and Spiderman outfits.

“This is the best job ever. Our youngest customer this year was five days old. She sat on my lap.”

Santa and the elves spend up to five minutes with each child, depending how busy it is.

Each child is given a present from a tub, which includes books, toys and accessories, and they also have their photograph taken with Santa.

The grotto, which is on the top floor of the Brunel Shopping Centre which is opposite the management suite and is open from 10am until 5.30pm today 10.30am until 4.30pm tomorrow and 10am until 5pm on Christmas Eve.