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SLIDESHOW: Santas as far as the eye can see

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A sea of red swept across Blackpool promenade as a record number of people took part in the annual Santa Dash.

More than 1,100 men, women, children, students, celebrities, firefighters, policemen and even dogs donned the festive get-up to raise thousands of pounds for the Gazette’s Hospice Heroes campaign and Trinity Hospice.

Entrants cheered and waved as they dashed from the starting line at Sandcastle Waterpark, at South Beach, at 11am, up to Central Pier and back again, buoyed by support from onlookers.

Star Linda Nolan was at the very front to start the race, wearing a T-shirt with her late sister Bernie’s picture on.

She said: “The people of Blackpool have really turned out for the hospice. Everyone knows how lucky we are to have it and how much we have to do to keep it.”

The Hospice Heroes campaign, which all Santa Dash proceeds will go towards, is aiming to raise £200,000 to help fund a massive redevelopment of the adult and children’s hospices.

The Nolan Sisters singer was one of many taking part in memory of a loved one treated at the facilities on Low Moor Road, Bispham.

Dave Richmond, 48, ran alongside his dog Minnie, also dressed in a Santa suit, in memory of his father-in-law Jim Stanhope who was treated at the hospice last year.

He said: “The hospice has given our family a lot of support so it seemed fitting to come and support them. I know the money will help others, it makes you feel good.”

Vicky Keith, 26, and six family members, from South Shore, ran in memory of Billy Yates who died earlier this year, aged 40, and had been treated at Trinity Hospice.

She said: “Trinity did so much for Billy, we’re here 
doing it for that.”

Becky Ryan decorated daughter Emily’s pram as a sleigh, to include the 17-month-old in the dash. Emily, from Cleveleys, has cerebral palsy and has respite care at Brian House children’s hospice.

Becky said: “It’s nice to give back to the hospice, they do so much for Emily, it’s amazing.”

Organisers said around 1,200 people took part, up by almost 50 per cent on last year’s numbers.

Shirley Morgan said: “What an amazing community effort, all ages, all sorts of reasons for doing it, all wanting to help the hospice. It’s so nice to see.”

Gazette Editor Jon Rhodes added: “It was a great day. The atmosphere was superb, the sun shone and once again the people of Blackpool and the Fylde coast have proved what a kind-hearted – and energetic – bunch they are.

“This is a massive boost for our Hospice Heroes appeal so thank you so much to everyone who took part.”

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