Hemel town centre turned red and white on Sunday morning as 520 Santas on two and four legs descended on Riverside, Hemel, to sparkle in the sunshine at The Hospice of St Francis’ ninth annual Santa Dash.
Spurred on by Hemel MP, Mike Penning and a moving speech from Hemel mum-of-three, Emma Young, 38, who took part with her children Louis, 12, and Daisy, nine, who have all been supported by the Hospice, the gaggle of Santas of all ages set off at 10am to walk, scoot or sprint the 2.5-mile dash taking in the High Street and Gadebridge Park.
The speediest Santa was Cosmo Craven, from London, who made in back in just 15 minutes but was soon followed by many others, including little Joshua Smith, just 7 weeks old, who was carried around the course by dad Duncan and mum Michelle, who recently moved to Hemel Hempstead and wanted to do something fun as a new family, raising £50 for the Hospice.
Another family taking part was Rachna Mehta and sons Konark, 11, and Veer, 6, dashing for the first time in memory of their mum and grandma, whilst little Tommy Stewart, 4, from Northbridge Road, Hemel, dashed with dad, Brad, and the pair have already raised £75 thanks to donations from family and friends.
The prize for the best-dressed Dog donning the most festive outfit was Switch, a rescue dog from Chesham, who won a dog grooming voucher from Groom in Berkhamsted.
The event was sponsored by Hemel’s Belvoir Lettings, but as the Gazette went to press, monies raised were still being counted, although every penny will help the Hospice support over 2,000 people who are affected by life-limiting illness in Herts and Bucks every year.
The next Hospice event is Wear it Festive Day this Friday 16 December and everyone is encouraged to wear a festive jumper or accessory, donate £1 to the Hospice and help it raise the over £5 million it needs every year to sustain its free services. Text HOSF16 £1 to 70070 to donate and make a difference today.
Events Fundraiser at the Hospice, Lauren Parker, said: “We’re so grateful for the amazing support we’ve received not only from all our volunteers, marshals and 520 Santa’s but also from Mike Penning, Belvoir Lettings, Riverside Shopping Centre and everyone else who contributed in any way. We couldn’t have done it without you!”
If you’d like to find out more about the Hospice, but relies on voluntary donations for 80% of its £5 million annual running costs, visit www.stfrancis.org.uk