SNOW turned Worcester into a winter wonderland as hundreds of Santas brought a sackful of festive fun to the city.

The Santa Dash saw 300 people - and their pets - run, walk and jog through Worcester on Sunday to raise vital funds for St Richard's Hospice.

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It all began with a warm-up outside Worcestershire County Cricket Club as the Santas danced, shimmied, squatted and 'skied' to Christmas tunes including Fairtytale of New York by The Pogues.

The mood was upbeat thanks to Worcester's own Mrs Motivator - dance instructor Ellie Hawkins - while the Christmas tunes came courtesy of DJ Talia, getting everyone in the Christmas spirit.

The two-mile course extended to the Diglis Bridge before heading back to South Quay while the longer trail took runners across the fields of Bennetts Farms, and up to their farm café, Bennetts Willow Barn, in Lower Wick before the Santas made a last dash towards the finish at South Quay.

The fundraiser will make at least £4,500 for the hospice in Wildwood Drive - and that is before sponsorship gives the cause another big boost.

Last year's Santa Dash, which had similar numbers of entries, raised £12,500, after costs, for the hospice.

This year a flurry of snow only added to the festive atmosphere as the big horn sounded and a sea of red and white swept along the banks of the Severn.

Sofia Gunster, St Richard's events fundraiser, had already warned the Santas to take care on the slippery paths as the snow continued to fall.

Participants had the choice of a two-mile route or, for over 14s, a four-and-a-half-mile course.

Though it was never a race - especially not in the wintry conditions - David Cains of Evesham was the first Santa over the finish line in South Quay.

Motivation came in the form of mince pies and other festive treats laid out at the finish line.

Among those to take part were Gareth Larner, 42, and Stephanie Cafull-Larner, 44, of Bath Road, Worcester.

Mrs Cafull-Larner said: "This is our first time doing the Santa Dash. It's a wonderful charity. We have had relatives that have suffered with cancer and had to use the charity. We're looking forward to the run."

Another couple to take part was Steve Travis, 42, and Shellie Reeves, 41, of Droitwich with their energetic Weimaraner, Bella, one, who seemed determined to set off well before the starting gun.

Miss Reeves said: "They looked after my best friend's mum when she was dying. They do a lot of good work at St Richard's - they're fantastic."

Friends Daria Kapisikis, 34, and Iveta Konrade, 39, said they both liked running and wanted to take part in a festive event in the build-up to Christmas. 

Santa Dash was a family affair for Ben Neal, 26, James Neal, 25, Steve Neal, 62, and Amy Summers of Inkberrow.

Ben Neal said: "It's perfect with the snow - it's so Christmassy." 

Ellie Hindmarsh, two, had the time of her life in a racing buggy decorated with tinsel, pushed around by mum Georgia Sammons, 35, and 35-year-old dad Matt Hindmarsh from Malvern.

The Santa Dash is sponsored by Bennetts Willow Barn and Bennetts Farms.