Visitors to parks across the south west London area may notice an influx of Santa’s at the weekend, as the Princess Alice Hospice’s annual Santa Fun Run will be going virtual for the first time in it’s 13-year history.
With social distancing measures preventing large groups from assembling, the Esher based charity that specialises in end-of-life care has been forced to adapt their typical fundraising programme.
Last year saw 1,800 festive runners across Richmond, Bushy and Thames Hill Park respectively, but this year the hospice is encouraging participants young and old to run their five or ten kilometre route anywhere and anyway.
Carol Aykac, Marketing and Communications Officer at the hospice, said: “You can do it anyway you like.
“You can run it, walk it, or jog it. You can do it on a bike, you can swim it, you can skate it. You can do it however, that’s the main differences for this year.
“We have families that come back year on year, it’s open to everybody. You can take the baby along in the buggy, it’s a real family festive event.”
With some running in memory of a loved one and others as a thank you for the hospital’s care to a relative, one man in particular has participated every year bar one since the run’s inception 13 years ago.
Despite the disappointment of not being able to run the event as normal, the unique dispersing of this year’s proceedings has opened the door for participation on a global scale.
Aykac said: “It means if you’ve got family on the other side of the world, in Australia, you can do it.
“We’ve got somebody in South Africa who’s doing it and we’ve got people in Ireland who have signed up.
“It’s interesting to see how far we can go with it, and we’ve got prizes for the furthest geographical spread.”
The charity is aiming to raise £55,000 to go towards hospice running costs and services, which total £10.1 million a year.
With only 24% of this figure supplemented by NHS sources, the hospice relies heavily on fundraising, an income stream massively disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Aykac said: “It’s been difficult. Over the course of the last six to eight months we’ve missed the marathon, all sorts of runs, our summer and winter fare.
“We’ve had all sorts of people supporting us, dreaming up ways of raising money for us.
“It’s been fantastic and we’ve been very lucky with our supporters but it has been hard work.”
The Princess Alice Hospice’s Santa fun run takes place on 12 and 13 December and anyone wishing to take part can sign up here.
Featured image credit: Princess Alice Hospice