Santa Claus is coming to town

Competitors in last year's Santa run and Joe and Ros Toller (inset)Competitors in last year's Santa run and Joe and Ros Toller (inset)

Wanstead couple Joe and Ros Toller are just two of a cast of thousands of Santas who will be running at the annual DoItforCharity Santa Run in Greenwich Park this coming weekend. Claire Trevethan, from the Children's Cancer Recovery Project, tells their story.

Ros and Joe Toller, both in their early 30s, are running 10km for Children's Cancer Recovery Project, a programme run by the charity Cancer Recovery Foundation. At the time of writing they have raised over £200 which will be used to buy toys, games and craft materials to help play therapists in hospitals comfort and distract children from their fear of treatment and keep them motivated. The money will also help families caring for a child with cancer pay their bills, easing the pressure so they can focus on their child's recovery as well as helping to save lives in developing countries by providing much needed medicines.

The run was Ros's idea; as a GP she has seen first hand how devastating a cancer diagnosis can be. "I saw the advert for the Santa run in the paper; what a great idea to get in the mood for Christmas and such a worthwhile cause. I was really moved reading all the thankyou messages on the website from the children and families Children's Cancer Recovery Project supports – they do a great job. I am more than happy to run around in a Santa suit for a few hours if it helps create some happier Christmas memories for children and young people with cancer."

"The support from Wanstead locals has been amazing," adds Joe. "We have only lived here for less than a year and the training for the Santa run has been a good way of getting to know the neighbours, who have all been amazingly friendly and supportive to us since we moved here."

Both Ros and Joe admit that they aren't fitness enthusiasts, but they created their own training programme for the run and stuck to it. Joe said that he was surprised about how much he now enjoys running. "I wasn't keen at first – I am no couch potato but getting up early and running in the cold isn't my thing. I got into it though and I am now hoping to get a fast time for the circuit on the day. A statistic that I read on Cancer Recovery's website is that many cancers could be avoided by making healthier lifestyle choices. That struck a cord with me and hopefully this is a step in the right direction for me getting fitter."

Ros and Jo will be running with Hugs the bear as their mascot. The Children's Cancer Recovery Project have made Hugs, who features in their logo, into a cuddly toy and will be sending him out in hospital gift bags this Christmas – a Hugs for a hug. They will also be launching the Hugs range of bears online with proceeds from sales supporting the gift bag programme.

Find out how you can get a Hugs of your own for Christmas and support the Children's Cancer Recovery Project

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