Join in the Christmas rush for charity in Virginia Water

WANNABE Santas can get their running shoes on to help raise money for charity. Sebastian’s Action Trust will host its annual Santa Fun Run on Sunday, December 8, in Virginia Water. The event sees 250 entrants navigate a 7km route around Virginia Water Lake, with runners, walkers, buggies and well-behaved dogs all welcome.

With last year’s run raising £3,000, charity founder Jane Gates is hopeful it will be well supported again this year.She said: “We would love everyone in the local area to join in, including businesses, schools, families, social groups, local firefighters and everyone that possibly can.

“Sebastian’s Action Trust is such an amazing charity and the families of the seriously-ill children we help are so deserving, with all the money raised at the Santa Fun Run going to help these families in their time of need.”

The Bagshot-based charity also had cause for further celebration after it secured its biggest grant to date.The charity has bagged £235,000 from The Big Lottery Fund, which will help it kick-start an outreach project.

The project will allow workers to visit families across Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Surrey, Wiltshire and Hampshire in their own homes. Outreach workers will help families with things such as hospital transportation, welfare benefit entitlement and household chores.

Caroline Holton, fundraising manager for the charity, said: “We are absolutely delighted with the funding, it is the biggest single grant we’ve ever had. The project focuses on the needs of the parents but that means we look at the family as a whole. It’s about giving bespoke support. Parents may need help with finances or they may just need to talk.

“It’s like Jenga – you take one piece away and it all crumbles down, and that’s what happens when a child has a life-limiting illness.

“We need to be there to build them back up again.”

The trust was set up in memory of Mrs Gates’s son Sebastian who, before he died, wanted to provide a purpose-built holiday home for children with life-limiting illnesses and their families. In July 2011 the trust opened The Bluebells, in Hampshire, which offers respite breaks.

Entrance fees for the run are £20 for adults, £10 for children under 16, while under-fives go free. Entrants need to have pre-registered before the race, with formal registration on the day starting at 9am before the run starts at 10am.

To pre-register for the run go to www.sebastiansactiontrust.org/santarun