It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at one of the North-East’s best-loved charities.

Butterwick Hospice Care has launched a series of seasonal events and fundraising opportunities so that supporters can get involved in the festivities in a safe and socially-distanced way.

Money raised from the appeals will help to keep the vital regional charity caring for terminally ill adults and children over Christmas and throughout the pandemic.

Butterwick chief executive, Debbie Jones, said: “Our founder, Mary Butterwick, once said ‘without the love of our community the hospice cannot exist’, and that’s still true today. Without the boundless enthusiasm and love of our supporters, we couldn’t have got through this difficult year.”

The charity’s popular sponsored Santa Run will return as a virtual event, with an exciting new twist: participants are encouraged to choose not only their own route, but also their own way of completing it.

The Gooding family, from Darlington, during last year's Butterwick Santa Run

Organiser Megan Davidson said: “This year, the Santa Run isn’t just for runners – we want to see Santas on scooters, Segways, bikes, skates, and anything else you can come up with! We’ve even got a prize for the most imaginative Santa!”

Adult participants will receive a Santa suit in the post, while under 13s will receive a Santa hat. All participants will also be sent a medal that doubles as a Christmas tree ornament.

Local schools are also invited to get in on the fun by holding a Rudolph Run, which raised more than £8,000 last year. Butterwick will provide a Reindeer pack for each child, who can raise money by running, walking, skipping, or dancing around their school.

Teacher Lindsay Clark, from Crooksbarn Primary School, in Stockton, said: “We first held a Rudolph Run in 2018 to support a child whose mum was being cared for by Butterwick. He helped me organise that first run, and it was a big success.

“Now the children look forward to the run every year, and our parents really believe in it – the support is fantastic. Each year we see how much joy it brings us, and how much it benefits our local hospice.”

Supporters can also remember loved ones who have passed away by donating to the ‘Light Up A Life’ appeal. Each donation means a light on the hospice’s Christmas tree will be dedicated to the memory of a loved one, and each donor will receive a ‘dedication star’ to hang on their own tree.

Due to pandemic restrictions, a special lighting ceremony will also be held via Facebook on Sunday, December 13 at 4pm.

Finally, the Butterwick is still there for shoppers looking for the ideal Christmas present or stocking filler, and for Christmas cards. While the high street is shut, the charity’s online and eBay shops are welcoming customers from far and wide.

The charity has appealed its supporters to make a cash donation this Christmas, to help fund Butterwick’s many services. A donation of just £7 would allow the hospice to give a child the opportunity to make lasting memories with someone they love.

A donation of £50 is enough to allow a terminally ill person to spend what could be their last Christmas at home, surrounded by their family.

Debbie added: “In order for Butterwick Hospice Care to be there to support you, your family and your loved ones, we in turn need your help to allow us to keep caring.

“Now we need our supporters more than ever, to ensure that we can be there for all those that need us in 2021. After all, what better time to help a cause like your local hospice than at Christmas?”

Visit shop.butterwick.org.uk and charity.ebay.co.uk/charity/Butterwick-Limited/20434 to order for home delivery.

To get involved with any of Butterwick Hospice’s Christmas events, visit www.butterwick.org.uk/events  or call 01642 628930.