IT was not so much jingle bells as bicycle bells when a sea of santas took to their bikes to raise money for a Worcester hospice today.

The first ever Santa Cycle proved popular with nearly 300 people of all ages taking part in the festive fundraiser at Top Barn Activity Centre near Hallow.

Organisers expect the off-road ride to raise around £5,000 for St Richard’s hospice in the city’s Wildwood Drive which provides palliative care for patients.

Participants had the choice of a 12 mile, eight mile or four mile routes with santa suits provided by the hospice.

Among those to take part were friends Scott Kendrick, aged 44, of Newtown, Worcester, Stephen Tucker, aged 41, of St Peter’s, Worcester and Lisa Kerridge, also of Newtown, Worcester.

She said: “I know a few people who have been in St Richard’s Hospice and they do a lot for them and they need our help.

Mr Tucker said: “My mother died of cancer 25 years ago. Everyone is affected by cancer at some point.”

David Ellison, aged 44, of St John’s, Worcester, took part in the 12 mile ride with sons Tate, aged 14, and Finn, aged eight, after they all heard about it through a primary school magazine.

Mr Ellison said his youngest son went to cubs with a friend whose mum had died of cancer.

He said: “We do quite a bit of cycling. It’s a local charity and they do a lot of good work and we wanted to support them.”

Chris Guise of Monkwood Green took part with daughters Phoebe, aged 12, and Olivia, aged 10.
Mr Guise said: “My father-in-law died of cancer and my auntie as well and she was looked after at St Richard’s Hospice. It’s a great cause.”

His wife Emma who was cheering them on at the start said: “My father died of cancer but did not have the opportunity to go to St Richard’s but a close relative was treated there with such respect and dignity and that made the last few days of life the best they could be.”

Alison Parkes, a senior community fundraiser, said: “It is the first year we have done this and it has exceeded our expectations. A few families have raised a tremendous amount of money through sponsorship. We will certainly look to do it again next year.”

Mrs Parkes and Lizzie Brazier, another community fundraiser, wished to thank all those who had taken part, sponsors Midland Communications and Top Barn Activity Centre for allowing them to use the venue.