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Suited Santas enjoy fun run for Havering-atte-Bower hospice

16:11 12 December 2016

315 Santas got involved in the run - along with some of our furry friends.

315 Santas got involved in the run - along with some of our furry friends.

Archant

A sea of Santas advanced to spread some ho-ho-hope over the festive season.

Sun took the place of snow yesterday for the Lapland lovers who jogged, walked and joked through a 5km route to raise thousands of pounds for Havering-atte-Bower’s Saint Francis Hospice.

In wheelchairs, pushchairs and on foot, more than 315 suited Santas congregated at Dagenham and Redbridge Football Club under blue skies and with a twinkle in their eyes.

Kicking off the route was Mayor of Barking and Dagenham Cllr Eileen Keller, who swapped ceremonial garb for her own Santa hat as she officially launched the race.

Clare McPartland, head of communications at the hospice, said there was a “fantastic” atmosphere at the annual event.

“People were coming out of their houses, kids stopping to stare at the sight of so many Santas – I think we turned a lot of heads!” she said.

“It’s my favourite event, the atmosphere’s great, everyone’s together for the same reason.”

The Santas – who ranged in age from 15 months to 71 and included the odd elf and gift – all made it over the finishing line back at the Victoria Road club.

“There are some people who really go for it, try and do it in a really fast time,” added Clare, who also took part in the fundraiser.

“And there are also people who walk around, it’s for all levels – that’s why it appeals to everyone.”

Donations haven’t yet been counted, but it’s hoped about £17,000 will be raised for the hospice, which serves Barking and Dagenham, Havering, Brentwood, Redbridge and west Essex.

Clare added: “Thank you to everyone for supporting us, it’s lovely.”

To find out more and donate to the hospice, go to sfh.org.uk.

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