HUNDREDS of Santas turned Worcester red to raise vital funds for one of the city's hospices.

This year's Santa Dash saw around 230 people and their pets brave blustery conditions to raise at least £4,500 for St Richard's Hospice.

That figure, set to rise, is enough to pay for a nurse specialist at the hospice in Wildwood Drive for a month or a family support counsellor for two months. Once sponsorship comes in for the event, which had more entries this year than last, Sunday's two-mile dash could raise as much as £10,000.

Fundraiser Jayne Sargeant described the turnout as 'fantastic' and said the family-friendly event drew in entries of all ages with some people opting to run it and others to jog or walk it.

The dash started with Christmas songs and a warm-up at the car park at Worcestershire County Cricket Club and finished at South Quay with medals and mince pies. The hooter had to compete with the sound of the cathedral bells as the Santas began their riverside run.

It is the second year the dash has started at the cricket club which has supported the event together with Worcester Lions Club which provided a Santa Sleigh. The support of Worcester City Council and Foley's Cafe has also been key. First Santa across the finish line was 36-year-old Kevin Wilson of Blackpole, Worcester. Steph Abdoh, 40, and husband Jason, 37, of St John's, Worcester, took part with three-year-old golden retriever Maple.

Mrs Abdoh said the hospice had supported her when her dad Stephen Bayliss, who died last year, was poorly. "We're doing it for him," she said.

Dave Eyre, 67, and wife Janet Eyre, 61, of Diglis took part in the dash for the first time with their dog, Cockapoo Toby, five. Mrs Eyre volunteers in the hospice book shop in St Swithin's Street. She lost her own father when she was just 15 years old.

"I think it's important to support the hospice or any hospice," she said.

Mr Eyre said the couple had only lived in Worcester for the last two years and saw the Santa Dash last year.

He said: "I thought 'that is inspirational – we must take part next time'. It's fabulous, what they're doing, and they have such a dedicated team of staff."

It was a family event for the Kenwricks and Rich Kenwrick cut a dash and stood out from the crowd in his inflatable Santa suit.