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Santathon fun sweeps Dagenham

 If there is a sight that's guaranteed to turn heads and put a smile on faces, it's 315 Santas storming the streets of Dagenham! 

Excited Santas set off
Saint Francis Hospice held its eighth annual Santathon on Sunday and the bright sunny December morning brought families, friends, running clubs and cadets out to enjoy the 5k fun run, which started and finished at Dagenham and Redbridge Football Club in Victoria Road.  

Mayor or Barking and Dagenham, Cllr Eileen Keller and her consort Reg Keller led the count down before cheering on the Santas as they set off. 

"This was a wonderful event and we were delighted to be there," said Cllr Keller.  

"Hospice care is something we might need and it is important that it is there.  "I know a lot of people who have used Saint Francis Hospice and over the years I have meet staff from the charity so I know how dedicated they all are."  Palliative care team at BHURT

Runners ranged from 15-months to 71-years-old and whether you sprinted, walked or crawled, everyone was a winner and went home with a sparkly Santa medal.  But there were trophies for those who wanted to step up the challenge. 

Santas warming up before the start of the race

Paul Grange and his two sons, who are all members of Dagenham 88 Runners, put in a very impressive family effort.  

 It took Paul, 37, from Dagenham, just 19.04 minutes to secure first place and his son Jak Wright, 14, was the fastest in the under 16 male category, finishing in just 19.56 seconds.  

Palliative care team at BHURT

His younger son Joseph Grange, 9, also came third in the under 16s category.   Fellow Dagenham 88 Runner Nigel Swinburne ran with his 15-month-old daughter in a buggy and managed to complete the route in third place. 

"This was my fifth Santathon and it was great," said Nigel, who is a maths teacher at Frances Bardsley Accademy for Girls in Romford. 

                                                                                                  Daggenham 88 Runners

"I love to run, I can do it with my daughter in the buggy, I come to Dagenham and Redbridge to watch football and it is all to support a great cause, so it ticks all the boxes for me." 

The Squire family were back for their fourth Santathon and wore fabulous outfits which were themed around characters in the animation Rise of the Guardians.  

Carole Squire, whose mum Violet Squire was cared for at the hospice in 2012, was there with her daughter Lauren Squire and her partner Ben Yates, along with their four-year-old daughter Isabel Squire-Yates.  Palliative care team at BHURT

"We had a fantastic time and this year we did it in our fastest time with Isabel walking all the way," said Carole, from Romford.  

"It is lovely when cars bib as you pass and it puts a smile on people's faces.  "It is such a great community event and the route takes us past the Heathway where our mum grew up." 

After years of watching hundreds of Santas storm the streets, sisters Claire and Laura Eaketts signed up and got their red suit on.              

                 The Squire family

"Year and year we have seen the Santas running through Dagenham and we felt proud to be part of it," said Claire, 29, from Dagenham.  

"The day itself was amazing. It was well organised and it was more than just a race as everyone was having fun and raising money to support Saint Francis Hospice.  

Havering 90 Joggers turned out in force to support the Santathon and among the 30 runners was Lucy Burdett.  Palliative care team at BHURT

She said, "This was my first Santathon and it was fantastic.   "It was such a fun atmosphere with people coming out to wave and cheer." 

Liz Preston, 64, from Hornchurch, who is also a member of Havering 90 Joggers said, "I always enjoy it. 

                                                                                                    Havering 90 Joggers

"For me it is all about making people aware of the hospice and they shouldn't wait until they need it before they start supporting it." 

Katy Woodgate, Events Manager at Saint Francis Hospice, thanked everyone who took part, with a special mention to all the running clubs, Redbridge Cadets and to Dagenham and Redbridge Football Club for all its support.  

She also thanked St John's Ambulance for making sure they were on hand in case they were needed.  

"Santathon is the perfect way to gear up for Christmas while ending the year on a fundraising high.and we are incredibly grateful to everyone who supported this exciting event," said Katy. 

Palliative care team at BHURT

Palliative care team from Barking Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust.