Hundreds of Santas dashed through an Essex park in a run to raise funds for charity.

A fun run to raise funds for mid Essex-based charity Farleigh Hospice was held in Chelmsford’s Central Park on Sunday.

More than 400 people took part in the race which saw them receive a Santa suit with their entrance fee.

Participants also brought their dogs along for the run, wearing their best Christmas jumpers for the occasion.

They joined the Townsend Twins for a Zumba winter warm-up at the start line before setting off to walk, jog, run or propel themselves around the family-friendly 5km course through the park.

The first person to complete the run was Lee Hembling, from Chelmsford, who said: “It was my first Santa Fun Run and an unexpected surprise to be the first to finish. It was a really good, well-organised event.”

Pals Kirstie Orton, from Chelmsford, and Lucy Haynes, from Norwich, had not seen each other for 20 years but arranged to meet up at the Santa Fun Run.

Kirstie said: “We talked while we ran. It was a lovely atmosphere and very festive.

“The work that Farleigh Hospice does is phenomenal so we’re very happy to support this charity. We’ll both be back next year.”

The Santa Fun Run is an important fundraiser for Farleigh Hospice.

The charity provides care and support, free of charge, to people affected by life-limiting illnesses and bereavement at its hospice building and in patients’ homes across mid-Essex.

The Collett family took part to show their support for Farleigh. They said: “We decided to do Santa Fun Run together as family is everything at this time of year and we wanted to feel closer to the loved ones that we’ve lost.

“We had a close relative who had some support from Farleigh Hospice before they lost their battle with cancer. Farleigh was really comforting and supportive to them so we want to give something back.”

Debbie de Boltz, Farleigh’s fundraising manager, said: “This truly was an event that everyone enjoyed, with Santas of all ages, pushchairs decorated as sleighs and even our four-legged friends dressed up in their Christmas costumes.

“It is so important that Farleigh Hospice is always here to help people live well from diagnosis to the end of life and to support anyone who has lost a loved one – so thank you to all of the Santas and to everyone who sponsored them. We hope to have raised around £15,000.”