Over 420 runners of all ages converged on St Albans on Sunday December 3 to take part in Rennie Grove Hospice Care’s annual Jingle Bell Jog and Reindeer Run. An otherwise dull December day was transformed into one full of festive cheer as those taking part donned reindeer antlers or bright red santa suits for their runs through the town’s streets.
There to see them on their way was the Mayor of St Albans and District, Cllr Mohammad Iqbal Zia, and three stars from this year’s Christmas pantomime at the Alban Arena, Aladdin. CBeebies’ Mister Maker Phil Gallagher, who plays Wishy Washy, was joined by Lucy Kane, Princess Jasmine, and Sam Hallion who is Aladdin. All three energetically joined in with the warm up for the Reindeer Run led by Jo Hancock from Everyone Active.
The 1.5k Reindeer Run set off first at 11am. Among the first to finish the 1.5k route were Eddie Hydes and his dad, Justin, from Marshalswick. Keen runner Eddie, who takes part in the 5k run in St Albans park every Saturday, said that he really enjoyed running in a santa suit. Also taking part were the Suttie, Lord and de Riese families who are friends through the children’s school and enjoy taking part every year in the build up to Christmas.
Carine and Simon from St Albans brought along daughter Leina, aged 2, who was delighted with her carrot-shaped medal. Simon said, “We like to do this every year as it’s for such a good cause and it’s got a really good community spirit. We always see other people we know.” The prize for the best dressed in the Reindeer Run was won by Olivia Bell in her striking red and green elf dress and Amelia Whitaker in a very cute santa dress.
The 5k Jingle Bell Jog featuring the red-suited santas set off at 11.30. Among the starters were Jane Notson from St Albans and her 10 year-old twins Isabella and Harry. Taking part in the event this year was particularly significant for Jane as she has been undergoing treatment for breast cancer in recent months. Although now in the clear and feeling hopeful for the future, Jane recalls how comforting it was to talk to the Rennie Grove volunteers who work in the Breast Clinic at St Albans City Hospital. She was also pleased to support the charity who had cared for two of her friends in the past.
Lining up alongside the Notsons was Veronica Bodell and her family. Veronica has undertaken to run 50k before Christmas as was looking forward to notching up the first 5k of this in the Jingle Bell Jog. Also looking forward to the challenge were a contingent from the Athena Ladies’ Running Group which encourages women to get into running.
Also taking part were the David family. Anna David, who lives in St Albans, had gathered seven members of her family to take part, with her Mum, Katie, and sister and niece, Harriet and Rosie taking part in the Reindeer Run and James, Frances and Aileen joining her in the Jingle Bell Jog. Katie said, “Today has been really well organised and we have had so much fun as a family.”
First across the line in the Jingle Bell Jog was 12 year-old Oscar Loveday who had signed up with his mum Juliana. It was the first time Oscar, who also runs for St Albans Athletic, and his mum had taken part.
Kate Grigg, Head of Fundraising in Herts at Rennie Grove Hospice Care said:
“I would like to say a big thank you to everyone who came along to run for and support Rennie Grove today including the Mayor and the Panto stars who helped create such a fantastic atmosphere. Events like these raise vital funds to support the care we provide for patients and families both through our 24/7 Hospice at Home Service and our Day Services at Grove House. All our services aim to keep patients at home surrounded by their families and friends and that is particularly important at this time of year.
“Thanks must also go to our sponsors, Blanco, and to Greggs who kindly donated some mince pies for participants. And lastly, but very importantly, we would not be able to run the event without our fabulous volunteers who helped with registration and signing and marshalling the route to keep our runners safe. We are really grateful to everyone for making today such a great success.”
You can view all the photos on our Flickr page.