When it comes to working on Christmas Day, feeding 45,000 fish really must be the most bizarre job in South Yorkshire.
Sheffield University staff have the unusual task of caring for zebrafish used in a research facility, while most people are opening gifts, celebrating with family and tucking into a festive lunch.
They must feed the tanks of tiny tropical fish, which takes around three hours, and call back again to check the systems are working correctly as well as the health of the creatures.
“We can’t change the rules on Christmas Day,” said aquarium manager Claire Allen. “It probably is one of the most odd jobs in Sheffield around that time.”
Around 20 devoted animal carers at Yorkshire Wildlife Park in Branton, Doncaster, also spend December 25 making sure leopards and baboons get their dinner as well as a special treat.
“Staff get into the Christmas spirit donning Christmas hats while going about their duties,” said a park spokesman.
“A number of animals will be spending their first Christmas at the park including the incredibly rare amur leopard and tiger cubs.”
Two of the park’s new polar bears, Pixel and Nissan, will also be marking their first Christmas at the park.
Many health and local authority staff will be heading in to the office or on call during the festive season.
Stephen Crownshaw, from Sheffield, is part of a 21-strong team that grit the city’s roads for Sheffield Council and is on standby in case the weather worsens.
Last year heavy snow fell across the city on Boxing Day and had been forecast, but sometimes staff can have less than an hour’s warning. Last year Streets Ahead teams worked around the clock in 12-hour shifts until New Year’s Day.
Stephen said: “I’ve been lucky so far that I haven’t yet had the call on Christmas Day, but because I am on standby and the call could come at any minute, it does mean that I can’t join in the festivities as I would like.
“I also have to plan all my Christmases at home, which means that we can’t go away.
“Winter is tough on our families too, but they do understand the job we do helps people to stay safe on the roads during the winter.”
Lorraine Jubb co-ordinates more than 200 staff who volunteer to help the elderly during winter.
Around 1,800 older people who don’t have the support of their families have been referred to the service.
The grandma, who is also helping out at a Christmas dinner for older people without families, said: “So far I’ve been needed on Boxing Day, which was last year.
“That was a bit mad – the snow came down really quickly and I had to take lots of calls from community support workers who were speaking to older people – and then to our volunteers who went out to see anyone who needed help.
“The main thing was making sure people were okay and they weren’t going out if they didn’t need to.”