ST HELENS was awash with a sea of red on Saturday morning as 180 entrants took part in the town centre’s first Santa Dash.

The charity event saw the Santas gather at St Helens College for a warm up before parading through the town centre and starting the run from Church Square.

It attracted dozens of families and despite bitterly cold weather there were plenty of smiles on what organisers hailed a highly successful event.

Some parents carried little Santas on their shoulders while others pushed them around the course in pushchairs.

The three kilometre route took the Santas through Chalon Way, over the Saints bridge, past Tesco and around the perimeter of Langtree Park before returning to Church Square.

Among those taking part were BBC Radio 5 Live sports presenter George Riley, who is a keen supporter of organisers the Steve Prescott Foundation, and St Helens stand up comedian Dave Twentyman.

The Star joined in the fun too with Jane Ball, senior sales executive, and Andrew Kilmurray, our news editor, both taking part.

Jane, a mother-of-three, who was joined by her seven-year-old son George, said: “We loved it. It was a great family event.

“It was the first race George had taken part in and he shot off – I think I must have crossed the line three minutes after him. He managed to raise £80 for Willowbrook.”

Another to take part was Greg Pennington, of Saints’ Community Development Foundation, who pushed his two-year-old son Finley around the course in a buggie.

The 29-year-old said: “I go running regularly and decided to take him with me on a jog recently and he loved it.

“As soon as I saw the Santa Dash I thought it would be an ideal starting point for us running together.

“Finley has Down’s Syndrome and can’t walk yet so for now he has the luxury of being pushed, he'll be toddling it in future.

“Together we raised funds for SCDF and in particular to support the Disability Sports Group ‘Legends’ who meet at Derbyshire Hill Family Centre on Thursday nights.”

The Steve Prescott Foundation and Willowbrook Hospice had joined forces to stage the dash.

Martin Blondel, secretary of the SPF, said: “We are really pleased with how it all went and it gives us something to build on for next year.

“The feedback we’ve had has been fantastic. It was great to see so many families out there taking part – that is what it is all about. Hopefully we helped get people in the festive mood.