HUNDREDS of festive fundraisers braved icy conditions this morning to dress up as Santas, reindeer, penguins and elves – all in aid of charity.

The annual Santa Run, supporting Butterwick Hospice, was staged at Hardwick Park, near Sedgefield, and is expected to raise around £8,000.

However, it was a case of “Slow-ho-ho” because freezing underfoot conditions made it too hazardous to run, with the event turned into a “Santa Walk”.

Organiser Lyndsey Barnes said: “We’re up on Santa numbers from last year, with around 350 registering, and it’s always such a lovely spectacle.

“It was a shame that the ice stopped people running but we have to put safety first and everyone has still entered into the spirit of Christmas and had lots of fun.”

James Land, from Crook, was taking part in memory of his father Stuart, who died 18 months ago from cancer.

“It makes it very personal but hospices like the Butterwick do an amazing job so it’s nice to give something back,” he said.

Sharon Reilly, of Horden, who was walking with granddaughters Abigail, four, and Eleanor, two, added: “The Butterwick is a local charity and it does such an important job, so we wanted to be here and play our part.”

Amanda North, of Ingelby Barwick, was walking with sister Jane Horrigan, from Middlesbrough, and her little boy Theo, aged two.

“It’s lovely to be out in the fresh air and it just signals the start of Christmas for us,” said Amanda.

Lots of dogs were also out in fancy dress, including a spaniel named Barlow after Take That star Gary Barlow, who opened the Butterwick Children’s Hospice 21 years ago.