HUNDREDS of Santas helped raised thousands of pounds for two different hospice charities in fun runs in Darlington and Sedgefield yesterday.

Four hundred Santas ran in aid of Butterwick Hospice Care at Hardwick Park, near Sedgefield, while 180 ran around West Park in Darlington for the town's St Teresa's Hospice.

As well as Santas, there was an assortment of dogs at each, a few elves and even a penguin.

Chris Barron, of St Teresa's, said the Darlington event had raised 'thousands' and sponsorship was still coming in, while Milly Toner of Butterwick said the Sedgefield run had raised about £4,000.

Both thanked fundraisers for turning out as well as sponsors for making the events possible.

Mr Barron added: "It was wonderful to see so many people turn out to support the hospice and we are lucky to have such a good support base.

"There is nothing quite like seeing 180 Santas charging around a park."

He thanked sponsors Bannatyne's, Darlington Rotary Club, First Stop Party Shop and West Park Academy for lending their grounds to the event.

The Butterwick run organiser Milly Toner said: “It’s been a huge success with a lovely atmosphere and everyone entering into the Christmas spirit. Big thanks to everyone who turned out.”

Ten-year-old Henry Gooding, who stood out as the only penguin waddling round, said: “I don’t know why I’m a penguin – I’m just here for the fun of it.”

Deborah Jeffries, from Billingham, pushed her baby Caleb round the Hardwick course – one of several mums to tackle the route with pushchairs. She said: “It was just something we really wanted to do, and it’s been a lovely way to spend the morning. Caleb slept most of the way round.”

Jogging grandma Mary Talbot, of Coxhoe, said: “This marks the start of our family Christmas every year. The whole family comes here to do the run and then go home for mince pies.”

Peter and Amanda Majer, of Toft Hill, completed the course with their six-year-old twins Lachlan and Thomas, who is in a wheelchair.

Amanda said: “We just like to support the Butterwick because it’s a great local charity and it resonates with us because we have a disabled son. It’s been a lot of fun.