IN her regular column, St Teresa's Hospice director Jane Bradshaw reflects on a busy Christmas period and looks forward to 2014.

"I’m going to start my first column of 2014 by wishing you all a very “Happy New Year”! 2014 promises to be a very exciting year for St Teresa’s Hospice, and we look forward to making some big announcements over the next few months, so stay tuned!

"Before we move on the new year, there are some things from the old one. First and foremost, thank you to all our supporters, as ever, and in particular during this Christmas time. It’s a very busy time for everyone, but it’s inspiring to see just how many of you donated time and money to help your local hospice.

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"We had a brand new event this year, which we hope will become a festive favourite in Darlington - our Santa Run! We saw sleigh-fulls of Santas turn out to run and raise money for the Hospice and Darlington Rotary Club charities. If you’ve always wanted to dress up as Santa and raise money for a great cause, we hope to see you next year!

"Our friends at Rotary were on hand to help with the Santa Run and then again to mastermind the van collections for our annual Christmas Tree Collection Service. This year, we collected more than 428 trees from Darlington and the surrounding area, raising more than £3,100 and we’re very grateful to everyone who volunteered to assist.

"The Cornmill Centre again kindly donated their massive Christmas tree to be our Giving to Life Tree. This annual appeal, which allows members of the public to leave good will and tribute messages, is entirely staffed by volunteers who gave more than 300 hours of their own time, helping us to raise £6,425.78!

"Anyone with young children will know that Santa’s Grotto was next to our Giving to Life tree, also provided by the Cornmill Centre. Another ‘thank you’ goes to those special gentlemen who made sure that Santa arrived on time every weekend – you know who you are!

"Our Christmas Cracker was, typically, a right cracker! Our beloved Musical Director John Forsyth put this concert together 12 years ago, and it just gets better. This time, we were joined by the Three Tenors – Michael Bradley, Chris Griksaitis and Tom Smith – three young men now performing professionally, all former members of the Tees Valley Youth Choir, and who proved to be exceptionally entertaining performers. Thank you to them, to John, and to all the soloists, singers in the choirs and musicians in the orchestra who all gave their time and talents free of charge.

"The team at Queen Street Shopping Centre joined in with the festivities again by hosting choirs from local schools, who entertained shoppers with Christmas carols while collecting change for the Hospice. Together, the schools and the centre helped us raise £1,069.79!

"Finally, I’d like to thank the cast, company and important front of house staff of the Darlington panto, Aladdin, at the Civic Theatre. By collecting loose change after performances, they’ve raised a staggering £5,200 so far, and the cast’s visit to our Day Hospice delighted our patients and staff alike – oh yes it did!"