Santa-stic effort as 100 runners join in virtual Christmas run for hospitals

Stephanie, Oliver, Imogen and Harrison Bender taking part in the Colchester & Ipswich Hospitals Charity virtual Santa Fun Run

Stephanie, Oliver, Imogen and Harrison Bender from Colchester taking part in the Colchester & Ipswich Hospitals Charity virtual Santa Fun Run - Credit: The Bender Family

More than 100 Santas from Suffolk and Essex took part in a virtual Santa Fun Run – including a family whose daughter’s life was saved when she was a baby.  

The Colchester & Ipswich Hospitals Charity’s annual run in Castle Park, Colchester, couldn't go ahead this year because of Covid-19 restrictions. But the virtual run has proved a big success, raising more than £10,000 for the NHS. 

The Bender family from Colchester took part to say thank you to the team that saved daughter Imogen's life. 

The Bender family from Colchester taking part in the Colchester & Ipswich Hospitals Charity virtual Santa Fun Run

Stephanie, Oliver, Imogen and Harrison Bender from Colchester taking part in the Colchester & Ipswich Hospitals Charity virtual Santa Fun Run - Credit: The Bender Family

Stephanie Bender, who ran with husband Oliver, Imogen and their son Harrison, said: “When Imogen was born in 2013, she became poorly very quickly.

“The fast-acting nurses and doctors at Colchester’s Neonatal Unit provided her with the most amazing level of care. Without them, she simply would not be here.  


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"We cannot thank them enough, and in a year where the world has suffered, we still want to raise money to enable the neonatal unit to keep saving little lives.” The family raised £2,640 for the neonatal unit at Colchester Hospital. 

Also running for a vital cause was a team from the children’s department at Ipswich Hospital. Child health matron Kate Stockton said: “We competed in the Santa Fun Run this year to support the Children’s Appeal, which aims to completely redevelop and transform our children’s department. We still need to raise £250,000 so every penny helps.

Paediatric consultant Lauren Filby and her son Elliott taking part in the Colchester and Ipswich Hospitals Charity virtual...

Paediatric consultant Lauren Filby and her son Elliott ran in aid of the Children's Appeal to redevelop the children's department at Ipswich Hospital - Credit: Lauren Filby

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“Some of the team had never run before, so it was great to come together to take on this challenge. We all ran at least 5km and supported each other every step of the way. I’m so chuffed we did it, and we raised £1,190 too.” 

Another participant was retired EADT and Ipswich Star journalist David Vincent, 68, a former cancer patient. In 2012, David was diagnosed with bowel and bladder cancer. Eight years on he is still very grateful for the outstanding level of care he received at Ipswich Hospital and considers himself “one of the lucky ones”. 

He chose to support The Blossom Appeal, to build a new £5.3m Breast Care Centre at Ipswich Hospital, and raised £285 for the appeal. 

David Vincent ran in the Colchester & Ipswich Hospitals Charity virtual Santa run in aid of the Blossom Appeal

Retired journalist and former cancer patient David Vincent ran in aid of the Blossom Appeal - Credit: David Vincent

Angie Tillett, senior fundraising manager of Colchester & Ipswich Hospitals Charity, said: “It’s the first time we have held a virtual event and so we didn’t know what to expect. To raise more than £10,000 is a great achievement. Everyone who took part worked so hard, for which we are truly grateful.”  

To support the Colchester & Ipswich Hospitals Charity,  visit its website.  

Jane Chapman taking part in the Colchester & Ipswich Hospitals Charity virtual Santa Run

Jane Chapman taking part in the Colchester & Ipswich Hospitals Charity virtual Santa Run - Credit: Jane Chapman

 Emma Presley, Lucy Archer, Karen Pates and Emma Chapman taking part in the Colchester & Ipswich Hospitals Charity Santa...

Emma Presley, Lucy Archer, Karen Pates and Emma Chapman taking part, with mince pies - Credit: Emma Presley

Susanne Watts with friends joining in the Colchester & Ipswich Hospitals Charity virtual Santa Fun Run

Susanne Watts with friends joining in the Colchester & Ipswich Hospitals Charity virtual Santa Fun Run - Credit: Susanne Watts

Julie Goddard running along Clacton seafront during the Colchester & Ipswich Hospitals Charity virtual Santa Fun Run

Julie Goddard running along Clacton seafront during the Colchester & Ipswich Hospitals Charity virtual Santa Fun Run - Credit: Julie Goddard

Colchester Hospital's Microbiology team joining in the Colchester & Ipswich Hospitals Charity virtual Santa Fun Run

Colchester Hospital's Microbiology team joining in the Colchester & Ipswich Hospitals Charity virtual Santa Fun Run - Credit: ESNEFT

Sarah Cavanagh taking part in the Colchester & Ipswich Hospitals Charity virtual Santa Fun Run

Sarah Cavanagh taking part in the Colchester & Ipswich Hospitals Charity virtual Santa Fun Run - Credit: Sarah Cavanagh

Susan Henry in her costume for the Colchester & Ipswich Hospitals Charity virtual Santa Fun Run

Susan Henry in her costume for the Colchester & Ipswich Hospitals Charity virtual Santa Fun Run - Credit: Susan Henry

Emma Reeve taking part in the Colchester & Ipswich Hospitals Charity virtual Santa Fun Run

Emma Reeve taking part in the Colchester & Ipswich Hospitals Charity virtual Santa Fun Run - Credit: Emma Reeve


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