St Albans Santa run raises money for a great Claus - with gallery

St Albans Jingle Bell Jog 2014

St Albans Jingle Bell Jog 2014 - Credit: Archant

A sea of Santas scooted around St Albans on Sunday, as 450 people took part in the annual Jingle Bell Jog and Reindeer Run.

Donning bright red Father Christmas outfits or reindeer antlers and red noses, the participants added colour and cheer to what was otherwise a dull and damp Sunday morning.

The event is a sponsored run of 5K or 1.5K, starting and finishing outside the Alban Arena, from which local charity Rennie Grove hopes to raise £15,000 to support the services it provides at Grove House and in patients’ homes.

The event was started by two stars of this year’s pantomime at the Arena, Steve McFadden, of EastEnders fame, and CBeebies’ Rebecca Keatley.

“It was great to see so many people out getting into the festive spirit and raising money to support local hospice care,” Steve said. “There’s a really strong community spirit here in St Albans as we’ve seen from the panto and I really enjoyed seeing so many people of all ages dressed up and taking part.”

As ever, those taking part on the day were keen to emphasise their support for the charity. David and Pauline King, from Redbourn, signed up for the Jingle Bell Jog for the first time, but had previously attended some of the charity’s other events, including the Herts Cycle Challenge. Their son-in-law, David Shutes, had been cared for at Grove House, and the couple praised the care he received from the charity’s nursing team. Pauline had also celebrated her 70th birthday earlier in the week and David completed the course with a string of balloons to mark the occasion.

Nick Luckett and family from Harpenden also had a strong connection to Rennie Grove: Nick’s wife, Christine, had volunteered at Grove House, helping patients with various exercises.

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Christine and Nick took part in the Jingle Bell Jog together four years ago and after Christine sadly passed away, Nick, along with daughter Julia and grandsons Zach, Barnaby and Harvey, decided to run in her memory.

The event continues to attract participants year on year, and a team of five ladies - Maureen Southwell, Morag Gracie, Sue Hawkins, Chris Dunn and Angela Bird - were once again in attendance, having taken part every year since 2007 when the event was first held.

“It’s a really fun event, and it’s great to help out the local hospice,” they said. “It really kick-starts our Christmas!”

Friends Steve Perkins and Katie Blower were very familiar with the work that Grove House does and speaking at the finish line they said: “It was really good fun and we would definitely do it again. It was really enjoyable.”

Among the runners was a team of 16 people from Nuffield Health Fitness & Wellbeing Centre in St Albans, while a team nicknamed the ‘Woodside Warriors’ made the journey from Watford’s Everyone Active Leisure Centre to take part.

The runners were welcomed back by Mayor of St Albans, Cllr Geoff Harrison, who praised the festive spirit on show.