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The Rodrigues family PNL-151113-113016001
The Rodrigues family PNL-151113-113016001

An Abbots Langley family is already getting in the Christmas spirit, after signing up for the Hospice of St Francis’ annual Santa Dash.

Registration has just opened for the festive fundraiser around Hemel Hempstead on Sunday, December 13, and local families, friends and even ‘jingle dogs’ are being invited to follow the Rodrigues’ lead and sign up to secure their Santa space.

Ken Rodrigues, aged 42, first saw the Santa Dash advertised four years ago, and thought it would be a laugh to get into a Santa outfit, rope in his wife Sarah and children Lucy and Ethan and run down the High Street to raise money for a local cause.

Ken said: “The event exceeded our expectations and our whole family have been doing it every year since.”

The Dash has taken on more poignancy for Ken, after his father lost his battle with cancer last year.

Ken said: “Though he passed away too quickly to be admitted to the Hospice of St Francis, it was this life event that made me fully appreciate the fantastic work the NHS, Macmillan, social services and of course hospices do.

“Besides getting into a Santa outfit and spending an hilarious couple of hours running around Hemel with other Santas and raising money for a local charity, doing the Santa Dash is a reminder of how precious life is.”

Starting at 10am, hundreds of Santas will congregate at Riverside and set off when the claxon sounds to walk, dash, scoot or jog the two-and-a-half-mile route.

Organiser Nicky Hamilton-Braithwaite said: “The Santa Dash marks the start of Christmas celebrations for local people. It’s a fabulous family event with a cheery, festive atmosphere, everyone’s in high spirits, the real Santa Claus is in attendance and anybody can join the fun.

“Every penny that’s raised through people’s fundraising goes towards our patient care at Christmas time.”

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