Hundreds of Santas cut a dash for hospice

Santas taking part in the Foyle Hospice fundraising dash along the Peace Bridge
Santas taking part in the Foyle Hospice fundraising dash along the Peace Bridge

Around 400 Santas have pounded the streets of Londonderry to raise funds for Foyle Hospice.

The festive event, organised by Foyle Hospice community fundraiser Michelle McGinn, saw hundreds of Santas brave freezing conditions on Saturday.

“It was a great success considering the minus degree temperatures we were dealing with on Saturday,” she said.

“We set off around 1pm and it was zero degrees. But in spite of the cold we were surprised that people came out to brave the elements.

“We had course marshalls throughout the route who were constantly checking to make sure there was no black ice. Luckily it didn’t rain and we had no accidents.”

Ms McGinn said the event allowed participants to either take part in a 5k Santa run, a 2k run/walk or a 5k stroll.

“We wanted everyone to be able to take part,” she said. “

“So we had the youngsters along with their mums and dads, grannies and grandas taking a gentle stroll on the beautiful banks of the Foyle.

“Everyone taking part was given a full Santa suit with a beard.

“So everyone was in their Santa suit, including babies in prams and dogs – and it was brilliant.

“The atmosphere was very good. There were a lot of spectators as well along the route.

“We started off at Sainsbury’s (on Strand Road in Londonderry) where they kindly allowed us to use their cafe facilities to take late entries.

“They kept us in out of the weather before the race started.

“Then most of the customers came out to see everybody taking off and again coming back.

“It was lovely before Christmas to see so many taking part in a festive event.

“Some of the wee children were adorable, they could not believe what they were seeing and then trying to run along beside mammy and daddy.”

Ms McGinn said the event will raise at least £5,000 for the Foyle Hospice.

“We are a hospice which receives less than 20 per cent funding from the Government so we have to actively fund raise in our community and geographical area to raise funds.

“The running costs for the Foyle Hospice are touching just under £3million per year.”

She said that the hospice “touches everybody in society”.

“We deal with terminal illness including cancer, motor neurone disease, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)and anything that limits a person’s life,” she said. “Hospice life is about adding life to days for people who are not going to get better.

“It is about bringing life to the days they have left and supporting them and their families.”