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Work life: Angie Flint, reindeer handler


Angie Flint, 43, runs Real Reindeer, a reindeer hire company. She lives in Leicestershire with her husband, Martin, and two children, James, 16, and Jessica, 13

At 6.15am. In the mornings, I can’t afford to waste a single minute. First I’ll wake up James and Jessica, let our four dogs out and feed our three cats and menagerie of reptiles. At 7.15am I drop the children at the bus stop in the neighbouring village, then come back to the farm for 7.35am to plan the day ahead over coffee with Martin. But at this time of year I’ll get up at 4.30am and feed our 39 reindeer before going to an event.

Running the family animal hire business, which involves looking after ponies and reindeer to hire out at private parties and events. As well as keeping them healthy, I also spend a lot of time training them. This basically involves taking them for walks like a dog so they stop seeing us as predators and realise we aren’t going to turn them into steaks. I also respond to all the enquiries we get for reindeer appearances. Most often people want them at Christmas parties, but we do get some odd requests – I had someone who wanted the reindeer to pull a funeral procession.

Angie Flint of Real Reindeer: illustration by Hattie Stewart

After a friend asked me to bring some of our ponies to her child’s birthday party to do rides. As soon as we did it and saw how much children loved it, we realised what an amazing business opportunity it was. So I quit my job as an operations director and together my husband and Istarted Ponies4Parties. Then we were offered the chance to buy two reindeer and from there Real Reindeer began.

Starts with feeding all the animals, which usually takes about an hour and a half. We worked out that we prepare 28,470 reindeer feed bowls every year! While we’re feeding them we’ll check them off, they have names and personalities so we can tell if one isn’t feeling well. We also check that none have got up to mischief overnight. Last week one calf got a bucket stuck on his head. If we have a booking that day, I’ll usually take two reindeer – being in pairs keeps them calm – and try to make sure they behave. We limit meet and greets to two hours so that they don’t get tired and our pens are big enough so they can get away from hands if they don’t want to be stroked. We have one reindeer who always stays on the farm as he’s not really suited to the work. Their wellbeing has to come first.

Reindeer saddle

This won’t be the last time Angie hangs up the reigns

Was going to Downing Street with our reindeer in 2012 for one of their charity children’s Christmas parties. As soon as we arrived, Ant and Dec appeared, along with the Prime Minister. To say I had butterflies is an understatement.

Is standing in the cold – it can be freezing. And, of course, saying goodbye to treasured animals when they die. It’s always heart-breaking.

Reindeer sleigh

Where would a herd of reindeer be without a festive sleigh?

Is watching people’s reactions when they meet the reindeer. Everyone is always so happy to see them!

We always sit down as a family and eat dinner. Afterwards, I’ll catch up on emails, before bed at 11pm.  

I was British Champion at karate when I was younger and I could have easily changed to taekwondo [which became an Olympic sport in 2000] and maybe carried on to have a professional sports career. Winning an Olympic medal would have been absolutely amazing.

Words: Alexandra Jones, Georgie Lane-Godfrey
Photography: Megan Taylor
​Illustrations: Hattie Stewart
Hair and make-up: rose Angus at S Management

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