Runners prove that Santa is all heart

Pictured in Sheffield, for the  Santa Jog.
Pictured in Sheffield, for the Santa Jog.
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Hundreds look dashing in red and white suits to raise cash for charity

WHIle the ‘real’ Father Christmas was greeting excited children in grottos across South Yorkshire over the weekend, hundreds of imposters flocked to Sheffield to take part in an annual Santa Dash.

Dressed like Father Christmas with red suits, white beards and black boots, around 400 festive fundraisers ran, walked, jogged and pushed prams along a one-mile route through the city centre to raise money for charity.

Santas were joined on the ‘dash’ by little festive elves and reindeers dressed up for the event and David Pugsley, from Totley, even dressed his Newfoundland pet dog Kayna up as a canine version of Father Christmas - complete with his own red suit and hat.

The event, organised for the seventh year running, was aimed at raising money for the British Heart Foundation which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

Mr Pugsley, whose daughter Leanne and two-year-old grandson William also took part, entered for the second year running after undergoing a double heart bypass in 2007.

“I brought my dog Kayna along and dressed her up because walking her helps keep me fit and healthy after having my bypass - we are a team so it was only right she was involved,” he said.

“I entered last year and enjoyed it so much I wanted to do it again because it is for such a good cause.”

Malcolm Geeson, aged 66, from Woodhouse, was among a group of around 50 men and women who attend cardiac rehabilitation sessions at Graves Leisure Centre in Sheffield.

“I had a heat attack two years ago so I feel it is important to support charities like the British Heart Foundation to help with research and treatment,” he said.

“It is the first time I have ever done it but it is a brilliant event with everyone in such good spirits at this time of year.”

But it was four-year-old Libby Freestone, from Doncaster, who stole the show when she helped Sheffield’s Lord Mayor officially start the Santa Dash.

Dressed as a little reindeer, the youngster was invited to the event to celebrate the progress she has made since undergoing major heart surgery just four months ago.

She was born with two holes in her heart and one valve rather than two but now has a new lease of life following her operation.

Her dad John said: “This is the third year we have taken part in the event and as well as being a special festive day for the family, it is a big thing for us because it us all about raising money for the British Heart Foundation and raising awareness.

“It is great to see so many people taking part, many with their own personal reasons, and it makes you realise that you are not alone.”

Jeanne Hardacre, from Norton Lees, dressed up as Santa with her three children - Edward, nine, Eve, seven and Rose, five.

“The children’s grandfathers both had heart disease so it is good for us as a family to support the charity.

“The children absolutely love the day and there is a real strong feeling of togetherness about the event,” she said.