THIS is the one Christmas surprise the Broad Street Mall was not counting on - when an abseiling Santa got his beard stuck on a rope mid-air.

Steve Chessell from the 11th battalion REME at Arborfield was commissioned to make a dramatic entrance at this year's light switch-on, and he certainly did that!

The 32-year-old was rescued by comrade Marc Hilton after being stuck hanging from the roof of the shopping centre for 40mins.

To find out more about his entrance, his reaction, and Reading's Christmas lights, pick up the Chronicle - out Thursday.