Determined not to be defeated by the snow, The Hospice of St Francis’ 10th annual Santa Dash went ahead on Sunday, a week after having to be cancelled due to the weather.
The charity rallied the troops and persuaded Father Christmas to do a detour so that hundreds of Santas on two and four legs could descend on Riverside, Hemel Hempstead, to celebrate a decade of dashing.
Spurred on by Hemel MP, Sir Mike Penning and Mayor of Dacorum, Cllr David Collins, the sea of Santas of all ages set off at 10am to walk, scoot or sprint the 2.5-mile route which took in the High Street and Gadebridge Park.
Families, individuals and their dogs from across Herts, Bucks, Beds and beyond joined in the festive fun – many for fun and to support a worthy cause, many in memory of a loved one to thank the charity for the care and support they received.
The eight-strong Curling-Petch family gathered from Bovingdon, Chesham, St Albans and Norfolk, to dash for the third year running with black and white rescue dogs Paws, Twitch and Splodge – dressed incredibly as Christmas presents - and Yorkies Milly and Ozzy to thank the Hospice for the care it gave uncle and brother Stephen Grant in 2014.
Mum Lisa Petch said, “It’s such a great event and an amazing experience to know that you can do something which is so much fun to support such a wonderful cause. My uncle Steve was only at the Hospice a week but the care was amazing.”
Rose Oliver, from Melsted Road, Hemel, dashed with her children Jack, 10, and Katie, eight, wearing eye-catching reindeer and Christmas Tree specs. “We’re avid supporters of the Hospice,” she said. “I’ve done the Mud Pack Challenge and I’m doing the Hospice’s Trek Sahara next year. The Santa Dash is just a fantastic thing to do to get you in the festive spirit and the kids love it!”
The prize for the best-dressed Dog donning the most festive outfit went to Tabby, a rescue dog from St Albans, who won a dog grooming voucher from Groom in Berkhamsted.
As the Gazette went to press, monies raised were still being counted, although every penny raised will help the Hospice support over 2,000 people who are affected by life-limiting illness in Herts and Bucks every year. To help make a difference today, text DASH01 £3 TO 70070.
“We’re so grateful to all our volunteer marshals, Riverside Shopping Centre, Mike Penning and Cllr David Collins, our very own Father Christmas, supporters who donate refreshments every year and of course all our amazing Dashers for changing their plans to enable the event to go ahead,” said Nicky Maxwell-Braithwaite, Hospice Events Fundraiser.
“Being so close to Christmas it was a lovely warm festive feeling which touched everyone who was involved.”
The next Hospice event is Give Up to Give Back, taking place throughout January 2018. Whether it’s fancy flat whites, cream covered cupcakes, delicious deli sandwiches or fizzy, bubbly wine - kick your daily treat or guilty habit to the curb for the entire month of January (or any other month!), feel fabulous and help the Hospice to raise the over £5 million it needs every year to sustain its free services.
To find out more, visit www.stfrancis.org.uk