FATHER Christmas is ringing the changes in Dalby Forest by retiring his reindeers in favour of other four-legged helpers.

The traditional British version of Santa has become a festive favourite in the forest, decked in green robes and topped with a crown of holly to strike a Yuletide image going back centuries.

And this year he is teaming up with the famous ‘Newfies’ of Dalby Forest.

With the harvesting of 8,000 Christmas trees about to get underway, the first of this year’s crop was delivered to Dalby Forest visitor centre by Santa in a cart drawn by a mighty Newfoundland dog, known as Obi.

Last year the dog and his fellow over-sized canines, weighing up to 12 stone and standing six feet tall on their back legs, proved a huge hit by pulling trees from the forest sales point to customers’ cars in carts, in aid of local charities.

Simon Butcher, Forestry Commission recreation ranger, said: “After their stunning début last year we are delighted that the Newfoundland dogs will be back to delight forest revellers.

“The dogs loved being out and working at Christmas and added to the feel-good factor of buying an eco-friendly real tree in Yorkshire’s biggest forest.”

Festive foliage will be on sale daily from December 1-20, 10am-4pm and will include freshly cut Norway spruce grown in Dalby. The Newfies – owned by members of the Aqua Nova Water Bears training club – are not the only Christmas attractions at Dalby this year.

There will also be weekend horse and carriage rides through the trees and Green Father Christmas will be meeting children on the weekends December 8-9 and 15-16.

There will also be wreath-making workshops on December 1 and 2. Tickets for this are £8 and booking is advised on 01751 460295.