Coronavirus, social distancing, bubbles…

They’re all obstacles that failed to stop Santa from making his annual visit to Bovington Academy – which is no surprise – given he ditched his reindeer-pulled sleigh for a tank!

The annual tradition of arriving on an Army vehicle to bring gifts to the primary pupils at the Dorset school continued this year despite Covid-19 restrictions.

Scores of excited children lined up in their bubbles to stand in the car park to watch as a Warrior Infantry Fighting Vehicle made its way through the school gates on Wednesday morning (Dec 16th).

The mighty tank was covered in snow and reindeers and was occupied by Santa and two elves – one serving as a driver and the other a vehicle commander.

Santa duly leaped out of the tank to deliver a sackful of presents (from a socially safe distance) and waved to the children before departing. 



The festive tradition to allow Santa to arrive on a tank instead of a sleigh stretches back over 20 years and is a nod to the primary school’s links to Bovington Camp which is close by.

The British Army military base in Dorset is part of Bovington Garrison and the tank was supplied by the Armoured Trials and Development Unit (ATDU).

Sara White, Principal at Bovington Academy, said: ‘’The arrival of Santa on a tank is a tradition that started some 20 years ago and also signals celebrating Christmas at the school. It’s a day filled with Christmas activities.

‘’The presents bought are funded by the Parent Teacher Friends Association (PTFA) and the tank is decorated by the Army. Everyone gathers in the car park and the children absolutely love it.

‘’It’s fantastic that the tradition could continue this year despite the Covid-19 restrictions in place.’’

This year Santa’s role was taken by Sgt Robin Jones, the tank was commanded by WO2 Sebastian Thurlow and driven by LCpl Matthew Bower.

Although not an Army school, it is estimated that around 65 per cent of the children who attend Bovington Academy, (which is part of the Aspirations Academies Trust), are from military families.

ATDU is responsible for the trial of new and emerging Armoured Vehicles as well as the testing and evaluation of emerging technologies that enhance current and future combat capabilities.