Video & Gallery: Santas invade town park

SANTA Claus has come to town . . . more than 150 times!

SANTA Claus has come to town . . . more than 150 times!

Scores of runners turned out for the second annual Santa Run around Christchurch Park in Ipswich on behalf of the East Anglia Children's Hospices(EACH).

And when the money raised in Ipswich is added to that from other runs across the region, the charity is hoping for a Christmas boost of up to £60,000.

Simon Hempsall from EACH said last year four runs around the region raised about £40,000 for the charity.

“This year we have got six runs taking place, so we are hoping to raise between £40,000 and £60,000. But it is difficult to know at this stage exactly how much will come in because it all depends on individual sponsorship,” he said.

A total of 125 people had registered in advance to take part in the Ipswich run - and about another 30 turned up on the day to register.

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As well as the £12 registration fee, most had also attracted sponsorship to complete the two-kilometre run through the park.

Before the run itself the participants enjoyed an enthusiastic warm-up accompanied by some of the most annoying music that event sponsor SGR could find in its CD library, and Ipswich Mayor David Hale was on hand to judge the “Best Santa costume” competition and start the run itself.

EACH chief executive Graham Butland was at the park to watch the event - and said the charity was hoping that the credit crunch would not affect its work too much.

He said: “So far this year our fundraising is running slightly ahead of last year - but we are aware of the changes in the economic climate.

“Whe people see their mortgage payments come down a bit, that might make it easier to raise money - but we just have to continue to work hard.

“Events like this are great fun and also help to bring in very important funds. We have been very lucky with the weather here today - if we had done this on Saturday it would have been very miserable,” he said.

“We hope to start work on a new children's hospice in Ipswich next year. All we need is £3.5 million!”

The winner of the race was James Brown-Sawyer, 27, from Bramford Road in Ipswich.

“I'm not really a runner,” he said afterwards. “But I do play football, so I suppose that must have helped me - it was good fun!”