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Christmas-Obsessed Grandma Transforms Herself Into A Living Elf On The Shelf For Fifth Year In A Row

Alison at Bangor Marina in December 2018 (PA Real Life/Collect)

A Christmas-crazy grandmother celebrated her fifth festive season as a "real life elf on the shelf" with a pub crawl dressed as Santa's helper.

Council enforcement officer Alison Campbell, even persuaded 10 members of her family to dress up, too. Raising money for the Alzheimer's Society Elf Day last weekend, as well as celebrating the 90th birthday of a relative with the illness.

These are just a few of the hilarious antics so far performed by Alison, who since 2016 has donned her green and red costume every day between December 1 and Christmas Eve with her husband, Stephen, a part-time student safety officer, as her personal photographer.

Determined not to let tough restrictions in her home town of Northern Ireland spoil her fun.

"Where there's a will there's a way," she said.

In previous years, mom-of-two Alison has made a guest appearance in her elf costume everywhere from the local fire station to the Titanic museum and even crossed the sea to Newcastle in 2018 to visit her brother, David Griffiths, who lives there.

But, restrictions because of the pandemic have forced her to stay closer to home, although she was not going to let a little thing like pubs only being open for takeaways hold her back.

Alison Campbell outside The Crown (PA Real Life/ Collect)

"It's been difficult as, until December 11, we're in lockdown here," she continued.

"So, I decided to go to the bars, despite them being closed, and have a dry pub crawl. There are photos of me standing by the gates, gazing in through the windows and looking very glum as I couldn't go inside."

Alison outside the Dirty Onion (PA Real Life/ Collect)

"It's very sad as a lot of these bars also might not open again," she added.

Alison was inspired to become a real life elf on the shelf after her daughter Clare and daughter-in-law Gemma started playing the game, in which parents leave an elf in different locations around the house for their children to find.

"My daughter and daughter-in-law were doing it with their kids and, when I was in Primark one day, I saw a costume and thought to myself, 'I'm going to be a real-life elf'," she said.

Alison Campbell outside the Merchant's Hotel (PA Real Life/ Collect)

"Anyone who knows me will realize that isn't a strange thought," she laughed.

"My family think I'm bonkers, but, in the future, if my grandchildren look back and think, 'Granny really was mad,' that's fine. I'm actually happy with that."

Alison in the off license in December 2016 (PA Real Life/Collect)

A huge fan of the festivities, even before she became a Christmas elf, Alison loved wearing seasonal jumpers and celebrating every moment she could.

"I absolutely love Christmas and dressing up," she said.

"My husband is a bit of a bah-humbug and doesn't quite get it, so all of this is also designed to get him involved as he takes all the photographs."

Stephen and Alison at site they met (PA Real Life/ Collect)

"He has no choice, he has to accompany me, but we do have so much fun doing it," she said.

"I saw Santa with some kids earlier this month and he was very happy for Stephen to take my photo with him and one of his elves – it was hilarious."

Instead of just donning her pointy ears for fun, this year Alison roped most of her family into dressing up as elves to raise money for the Alzheimer's Society (AS) – which had an official Elf Day on December 4.

Alison and Stephen Campbell dressed as elves (PA Real Life/ Collect)

Combining fundraising with a 90th birthday celebration for a relative, various family members turned up outside Alison's house in costume – with those in her support bubble also allowed inside – raising £540 for the charity through a JustGiving page.

"The Alzheimer's Society really matters to me, as I have a relative with the illness and lockdown has been very hard for them," she said.

"We had our little do, without breaking any Covid rules, on Saturday and it was a real laugh."

R-L Sophie, 2, Craig 34, Jake, 7, Gemma and Ellie, 12 Campbell (PA Real Life)

"We enjoyed some hot chocolate and a few nibbles outside and sang happy birthday," she said.

"It was great fun."

Alison plans to keep raising money by posting photos of her elf antics to her Instagram account between now and Christmas Eve.

Clare and Alison Campbell (PA Real Life/ Collect)

She is planning to have a few more photos taken at Belfast landmarks, such as the Beacon of Hope statue, City Hall and Joy's Entry.

And on December 25, she will hang up her elf costume for another year, to enjoy Christmas Day with close family members in an outfit bought by Stephen.

"It's been a tough year for everyone and I hope my real life elf on the shelf spread a little joy. It certainly made me laugh – it's one Christmas joke that never wears thin!" she added.

To donate to Alison's JustGiving page, where she is raising money for the Alzheimer's Society, click here