In the red for Jingle Bell Jog through St Albans city centre

Rennie Grove Jingle Bell Jog and Reindeer Run, St Albans 2016.

Rennie Grove Jingle Bell Jog and Reindeer Run, St Albans 2016. - Credit: Archant

Braving the fresh winter chill in the air, around 400 people donned Santa suits and reindeer antlers to bring the Christmas spirit to the centre of St Albans.

A ho-ho-hoard of Father Christmases ran across the city, aiming to raise £10,000 for Rennie Grove Hospice Care in the charity’s most festive event, the Jingle Bell Jog and Reindeer Run on Sunday.

Stars of Snow White, this year’s pantomime at the Alban Arena, came out alongside a personal trainer from Fitness First to get everybody ready to run as they jumped, squatted, and stretched to some classic Christmas songs courtesy of Heart FM.

Tamsin Jones and her friends Marie and Ben from Stevenage brought the whole family, including their festive furry friends. This was their first time at the Jingle Bell Jog, having done their own events for Rennie Grove in the past.

“Ben set up a challenge day as a way of fundraising where we did loads of different things but this is our first Rennie Grove event,” Tamsin explained. “My dad was cared for by their nurses for about a month and a half, and they were fabulous.”

Though the canines in Christmas jumpers were turning heads, a two-legged participant claimed the Best Dressed prize. Edward Hemsley carried a small Christmas tree, complete with lights, tinsel and Santa-shaped chocolates, inside a rucksack for the duration of the run.

Ed’s may have been the most ingenious of creations, but a little girl in a sled-shaped pram stole everyone’s heart. Charlie Coles and her husband James decided to take their baby Lennie out with them for the run. Not only did they dress their daughter in an adorable elf costume, they also strapped two cardboard sleigh sides to the pram to add a further festive touch.

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Charlie set up a JustGiving page for Lennie so she could help raise funds for Rennie Grove.

“We were looking for a Santa run,” explained Charlie, “and we found the Jingle Bell Jog, which sounded perfect. We only found out about it on the Monday before, but we decided we wanted to make a difference this Christmas, so we moved fast and so far Lennie has raised £410 of her £500 target, which we think she will hit. We’re very proud, though it took a long time to make the sleigh as she kept crawling in the paint!”

A 25-strong team from the St Albans’ base of kitchen-fitting company Blanco was led by Ann Marie: “This is the first charity event we’ve ever done as an office here at Blanco. Some colleagues have brought husbands, wives, children… we’ve all come together to have fun and to help a good cause. We’re a global company, but we felt it was important to do something for a local charity that is close to our hearts. We’ve hit 70 per cent of our £800 fundraising target and we’re hoping to hit 100 per cent today,” she said.

Alongside the newcomers were some familiar faces, such as David Heal of Goffs Oak, who was taking part for the fifth consecutive year. A keen runner, David has completed several Iron Man challenges and over a hundred half marathons, but still finds time to tackle the 5km Jingle Bell Jog.

“My mum had breast cancer last year,” he explained, “but I’d been coming long before that to support Rennie Grove. I love this event, I really do, and it’s just such fun. Each year it’s so well marshalled, the staff are fantastic, the warm up’s great and the atmosphere is amazing. I’ve done a few Santa runs in my time and this is always the best one.”

St Albans Nayor Cllr Frances Leonard, came down in the cold to get involved, cheering the runners across the line, handing out medals to each participant and congratulating them on their efforts.

Director of fundraising and marketing at Rennie Grove, Gillian Barnett, said: “The Jingle Bell Jog and Reindeer Run is always such fun and we’re thrilled so many people turned out this year to enjoy it with us. The money raised really will make a difference to local patients and families affected by cancer and other life-limiting illness. £10,000 could fund several hundred hours of hospice at home care, and help towards our day services at Grove House too.

“We’d like to thank our marshals and other volunteers; we genuinely couldn’t do this without them, and so many were willing to give up their time. Thanks also to Collinson Hall, the Waterend Barn and Fitness First for supporting the event. We hope to see you all again for more Christmas fun in 2017!”

For more details of Rennie Grove’s active events throughout 2017, visit: