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Santas make a dash for charity on South Shields seafront

Father Christmases, elves and reindeer pulled on their running shoes as they joined together to help those facing a tough time this Christmas.

Around 100 people gathered on the seafront in South Shields this morning for the second Santa Run in aid of The Key Project.

The runners on the start line earlier today.

The runners on the start line earlier today.

It works with 16 to 25-year-olds who are experiencing hardship or homelessness and was set up in 1992 by a team of volunteers from churches in the area who came together after a young homeless man died on the streets in winter.

Rather than set up a registration fee or ask for sponsorship, the organisation asked for donations of food, toiletries and donations of money from runners who joined in the Run, Eat, Sleep event.

Parents pushed toddlers around the course in pushchairs, with the oldest competitor 82-year-old Ruth Anderson.

A 1k route was set up around the Dragon on Bents Park Recreation Ground for children and beginners, with a 5k run for more experienced runners.

People of all ages joined in the event in aid of The Key Project.

People of all ages joined in the event in aid of The Key Project.

Among those to take part was personal trainer Marie Dickinson, 43, from South Shields, who had taken part in the inaugural event.

She enlisted sister Claire Moffit, 45, an NHS administrator from Cleadon, and her daughter India Rogers, 18, a student at St Wilfrid's Sixth Form, and mum Joan Dickinson, 72, a retired Asda staff member who is also from South Shields, to join in this year's event.

Marie said: "When I did it last year I loved it, there was a really good atmosphere and it was good to get into the Christmas spirit.

"It's also good to blow away the cobwebs on a Sunday morning.

A 1k and 5k route was set out for runners on the Dragon in South Shields.

A 1k and 5k route was set out for runners on the Dragon in South Shields.

"This time I got together my mam, sister and niece for this year's so we could do it all together.

"I think there are far more people here this time."

The women added they were more than happy to add to the collection of items set for the foodbank.

Luke Adams helped organise the race after he was inspired to offer his support by the story of South Shields woman Louise Scott, who set up a reverse advent calendar to collect items for those in need during December and sparked a trend across the world.

Luke, who has pulled together races in the area for around five years, said: "It's fantastic, lots of people have come down to help, we've had loads of volunteers and members of the public get involved, and we've had a great turn out of runners.

"Runners have been doing lots of events across the running community of South Shields.

"We've had people from Newcastle and Seaham coming along today too."

Bernadette Askins is chairman of the Key Project, which is based in Baring Street.

She said: "It's a lovely, frosty morning, just ideal for the race and it's absolutely great to be here.

"We're really overwhelmed by the support and the response from so many people and had so many bags of food and donations, our cars are going to be filled up, which is fantastic.

"It's lovely to see so many Santas, elves and reindeer dressed up and it's a really good event to bring people together."

The organisers also added their thanks to the New Crown pub, which opened early so people could register to take part.

The charity is appealing for people to lend a hand at its bag pack event at Asda Boldon on Saturday.

It will run from 10am to 6pm, with anyone interested in helping out asked to call its office on (0191) 496 9710 so a rota can be drawn up for the day.

Donations can be gifted to the appeal at the charity's base between 9.30am and 5pm from Monday to Friday.

For more details about the charity, click here.