City Santa run goes to Russia… with love

Leicester’s Santa Fun Run to raise money for Rainbows Hospice went international at the weekend… across Russia!!

Soviet broadcaster NTV showed hundreds of jolly Santas, walking, dancing and running through historic Abbey Park to help put smiles on faces of youngsters with life-limiting conditions – and beamed its TV report into the homes of 150 million Russians.

“It’s wonderful,” said Elizaveta Gerson head of NTV’s UK bureau, who covered the seasonal fundraising event. “We don’t have anything like this in Russia – it is such lovely thing to see people having such fun to support children and families facing difficult times. We like this British idea very much,” she added.

And, throwing on her own Santa suit and beard the Russian correspondent (pictured) even took part! But how did the event which raises a four-figure sum for Rainbows attract so many Santas at this busy time of year, Gerson wondered.

“It’s easy,” said Rainbows spokesman, Andy Goss. “We have a deal with Santa, whose elves work their magic to send the suits out from Lapland direct to our supporters… who turn up in their hundreds to have fun and back the charity – and help put smiles on faces.”

The five Santa runs which are organised or directly support the Loughborough-based hospice caught the eye of the Russian broadcaster, which said it liked the “slightly eccentric” idea of an army of Santas running in towns and cities across the East Midlands for youngsters facing short lives.  

Polish couple Asia and Prsemo Sliwczynscy travelled from Peterborough, where they have lived for the last 10 years, to take part. Mrs Sliwczynscy said: “We love this kind of thing – having fun to help children and their families who need support. This is something we don’t have in Poland.”

Beth Watson, originally from Virginia in the US, now working in Blaby, brought the whole family to take part, including children Asher (13), Cayman (10), Reed (five), Bear (three) and three-month baby Huxley. “Isn’t it great?” she said as she buttoned her scarlet tunic and adjusted her baby sling. She is pictured with her husband Adam and mother Judy Harman.

Event organiser Chris Dolan said more than 300 Santas had taken part.

Rainbows Hospice has just launched its Christmas Appeal to put more smiles on faces and make memories for youngsters whose lives are too short. To donate and add to the magic visit

To view the NTV report click on