Havens Hospices has kicked off its Christmas celebrations with a weekend of festive fundraising, raising around £25,000 to fund its free hospice care.
On Saturday 30th November, Little Havens in Thundersley was transformed into a ‘Winter Wonderland’ and opened to the public. It’s estimated 3,000 people attended the free event.
The hospice has extensive gardens which were beautifully lit up with Christmas lights thanks to Christopher Johnson from Enlightened FX Ltd. Dotted around the grounds were more than 25 seasonal stalls, entertainment including the local Salvation Army Brass Band and food trucks such as Truly Vi’s, Nightingales Catering and Rossi.
Create98 and Bumblebee Events hosted craft activities and Santa made an early appearance in his Grotto. The hospice was also open for families who took part in the festivities.
Fundraiser Emily Tucker who organised the event said, “Our hospice is truly beautiful and it’s been a pleasure to welcome our supporters to look around and start their Christmas celebrations with us.”
The following day, attention turned to Wat Tyler in Basildon where more than 700 Santas and Reindeers took over the park. The charity’s annual Santa Run was a choice between a 4.5k route or a 2k fun run, with medals handed out to all finishers. There was also a toy sale, Santas Grotto and festive food stalls with mulled wine to keep the spectators warm. Entertainer was provided by DJ David Baker from Chelmer Radio and Havens Hospices Patron Su Harrison.
Gail Randall is Assistant Head at Beauchamps High School in Wickford and signed up a team of 30 from the school. She said, “This is the third year we’ve taken part. It’s a nice way to start our Christmas celebrations and has become a school tradition. It’s a great way to bring staff together and give back to our community.”
The Everett family is from Stanford le Hope and this was their first Santa Run. Jake Everett, 7, said, “I like Christmas and I like running so this is a fun thing to do. I have done quite a lot of training to prepare.”
Richard Convey is from Southminster and took part with his dog Bandit. “It’s a great cause and, as a family, marks the start of Christmas for us.”
One of our youngest participants was ‘Elsie the Elf’ who took part with mum Lauren and dad Ben Barham. “I’ve always wanted to do this Santa Run as it’s a great local charity, so it has been lovely to share this with Elsie.”
Events like Winter Wonderland and the Santa Run help to raise vital funds for Havens Hospices, which also includes Fair Havens in Southend and The J’s which provides palliative and supportive care for young people in their home. It costs more than £81,000 every week to provide this care, with the majority coming from charitable donations, events and gifts in Wills.
Both events could only have taken place thanks to the generosity of our volunteers who gave up their time at the weekend to help.