Brentwood, 4.45pm: 23°C, scattered clouds

Santathon brings magic of Christmas to Dagenham

It’s the season of giving and 230 Santas went all out to bring the magic of Christmas to Dagenham and help raise £1,000s for end of life care.

Saint Francis Hospice’s 10th annual Santathon started and finished at Dagenham and Redbridge Football Club and those looking for festive fun certainly found it as they stepped into the famous red suit!

The charity’s patron Sir Trevor Brooking was there to greet and chat with supporters before sending them on their way around the 5k route.

And Mayor of Redbridge Cllr Debbie Kaur-Thiara and Mayor of Havering Cllr Dilip Patel were also there to ensure runners got off to a great start.

Zoe Ledger, who was taking part in her 5th Santathon, was there with her three children Adam, 11, Paul, 3, and Eric, 17-months-old and the event has become a family tradition.

“We love it as it is something totally different for us to do and it is all for Saint Francis Hospice,” said Zoe from Romford.

Laura Eakett from Dagenham was back again and this time she was joined by her friend Kate Chadwick.

Rahana Islam, who is a member of Daggers 88 club, said, “Santathon is the highlight of our calendar.

“We really love it and joke that it is our main event of the year.”

Fellow Daggers 88 club member Hannah Sheikh, added, “We do club races all the time so it is nice just to take part for fun.

“There is always a wonderful atmosphere and passers-by and residents are so supportive; cars beep as you go past and people come out of their houses to cheer you on.”

Timi Veerasamy from Barking and Dagenham Junior Park Run, said, “We’ve had a lovely day.
“It is such a family event with everyone joining in and people along the road wishing you a merry Christmas.”

Everyone who took part was a winner and received an exclusive medal as they passed the finish line.

But there were special trophies awarded to the more competitive runners.

Paul Grange and Rahana Islam were first to finish in the men and women’s category and Paul’s son Joseph was the winner of the under 16s category.

The winner of the chase the turkey competition turned out to be a vegan so his prize of a fresh turkey will go to his lucky mum!

And Jacqui Elliott was thrilled her pooch Chubber won the best dressed dog category.

Chris Franklin, Events Manager at the hospice, said, “We are very grateful to all our supporters who came out to make Santathon such a success.

“It is our most festive fun event and it was the perfect way for families, friends and colleagues to come together and raise money for Saint Francis Hospice.

“As a charity, we rely on our community to help us raise the £7.9 million a year we need to fund our specialist end of life care services.

“Thank you to Paul Gwinn and Dagenham and Redbridge Football Club for hosting the event and to our patron Sir Trevor Brooking, along with the Mayors of Redbridge and Barking and Dagenham for being part of this year’s Santathon.

“And a special thanks to Michael Craig from DoorStep Meats in Smithfield Meat Market for donating the turkey.”

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