IT would seem that even Christmas isn't immune from Britain's economic crisis.

The Daily Mirror reports that council bosses in Birmingham have axed Santa’s grotto at the city's Museum and Art Gallery after telling parents they can’t afford to pay Father Christmas’s wages.

Birmingham Museums Trust, which runs the building, said: “Our decision was not arrived at easily. But ultimately it was felt the best thing to do as we are currently reviewing all programming across Birmingham museums in light of changing resources.

“We did not want to go ahead with our usual Christmas attractions unless we absolutely knew we would honour the traditions to the highest possible standards.”

The advance of new technology marches on – even in ecclesiastical circles with the Church of England announcing that traditional orders of service are to be incorporated into a new mobile phone feature.

The Daily Telegraph says that for the first time worshippers will be able to follow readings, prayers and other parts of the Anglican service through an app on their mobile phones or tablets such as iPads.

So, instead of rustling through the pages of a Prayer Book or service sheet, they will be encouraged to scroll silently through virtual pages on electronic device.

Thomas Allain-Chapman, of Church House Publishing, which is making the new app available, said: “The new digital resources we are offering this year will, I hope, make this new church year just a little bit easier for clergy and parishes. Sunday Worship is designed to make it simple for anyone to find out what's coming up in church this Sunday, to prepare well for taking part in worship and perhaps also revisit the Bible readings and prayers during the rest of the week, too.”

Some seasonal initiative has been shown by the landlady of a pub near Upton-upon-Severn in Worcestershire which is providing tents to give drinkers a free overnight stay during the festive season.

The Daily Mirror says that Lizzie Jennings, who runs The Drum and Monkey, is also providing beds, sleeping bags and a free breakfast.

“It's for people who think they may have had one pint too many and don't want to risk it,” said Lizzie.

Celebrating the season of goodwill in great style is great grandmother Doreen Gover who, says the Daily Express, has knitted matching Christmas jumpers for all 28 family members, including the pet dog.

The 78 year old, from Leatherhead in Surrey, has been knitting away for up to eight hours a day for the whole year, using up 25 miles of wool, to make the festive-themed red sweaters.

Now all family members, including her four children, nine grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren and Springer Spaniel Cookie are kitted out for Christmas

Doreen said: “I initially started knitting for something to do. I started off just making a couple of jumpers but it snowballed from there. I love my family and I really enjoyed doing something that has made them so happy.”

The Daily Mirror says that Sid and Iris Ratcliffe are Britain's oldest newlyweds after marrying at the age of 97 and 90!

The couple, from Wolverhampton, met at a bus stop in 2001. Sid persistently asked Iris to tie the knot for 12 years before she said yes and they exchanged vows in front of family and friends.

Iris said: “It was love at first sight. It’s definitely never too late. I don’t want to be rude but there was plenty of love when we met. We have to be more careful now but we still share a bed. We like to sit and hold hands a lot. We don’t talk so much as we get older.”

Reference lists:

The Express(www.express.co.uk)

Daily Mirror (www.mirror.co.uk)

Daily Telegraph (www.telegraph co.uk)