PUPILS are on their marks as they prepare to host an annual fundraiser for a cause close to their hearts.

For the sixth time running, West Park Academy, Darlington, will be the venue for a Santa Run which has helped raise thousands of pounds over the years for the town’s St Teresa’s Hospice.

This year will see three races for competitors of varying ages and abilities – a Santa Sprint, a Reindeer Run and an Elf Ramble for those bringing pushchairs and dogs.

Pupils, staff and volunteers help transform the school into a festive wonderland with Christmas stalls selling a range of cards and delicious puddings, a cake tombola and festive photography. This year medals will be presented to competitors by the town’s mayor Nick Wallis and there will also be mince pies and hot chocolate at the finish line.

Rotary Club Darlington is also backing the event, which starts at 11am on December 1, by providing everyone with Santa suits and hats. Rotary President Sue Campbell will also be helping the Mayor to present medals at the finish line.

West Park Academy’s HR/Office Manager Cath Thirlway said: “We are thrilled once again to be helping St Teresa’s Hospice which does such a great job for the people of Darlington, South Durham and North Yorkshire.

“Our choir will also be singing in town to raise more funds for the hospice and the Santa Run comes the day after our Christmas fair getting us in the perfect mood for the festive period.”

Hospice communications and marketing manager John Paul Stabler added: “We are so grateful to the school which is the perfect venue for this wonderful event. West Park Academy staff and pupils have been loyal and committed champions of the hospice for many years and we really appreciate their unstinting support.”

Entry is £15 for 16+, £10 for 5-15, with under 5s and pets welcome to take part free of charge. For more information and to register visit www.darlingtonhospice.co.uk.