Revellers get geared up for festive season

Dorset Echo: AND THEY’RE OFF: The Ugly Sisters lead the race AND THEY’RE OFF: The Ugly Sisters lead the race

SOGGY Santas still managed to smile in ho-ho-horrible weather during Weymouth’s annual Christmas pudding chase.

Rain battered a host of festive creatures as they ran along the beach in aid of the British Heart Foundation.

More than 100 people and even some dogs dressed up for the 5k run from Weymouth Pavilion to Greenhill and back.

Although mayor Ray Banham was unable to see the Santas on their merry way due to illness, mayoress Pam Nixon helped with the countdown.

She said: “It’s a great honour to be here today.

“It’s wonderful that so many people should dress up and take part for such a worthy cause, especially on a day like this.

“The Santa Dash is part of Weymouth’s build up to Christmas, along with all the carol services and the other annual events.

“It’s these things that get the town into the Christmas spirit, despite the weather.”

Despite the downpour, a touch of glamour was added to proceedings when Cinderella’s Ugly Sisters, from this year’s Weymouth pantomime, joined in the start of the race.

Triathlete Kit Walker took centre stage as the Christmas pudding and was hunted down by hungry Santa Luke Voss, aged 17.

Luke said he is looking forward to the prospect of putting on the pudding suit next year.

He added: “That was tough, it was hard work.

“I started triathlons in the summer and this is my first year racing, so to win today was good.

“It’s funny to be dressing up as the pudding next year but I’ve won now so I don’t really have a choice.”

Weymouth and Portland Borough Council events and promotions officer Steve Davies said he was ‘pleased’ to see so many Santas at the starting line on the beach, one of ‘Weymouth’s favourite venues.’

Keeping its promise of festive fun

IT WAS jingle bells and jingle tills as a Portland community lit up for Christmas.

Easton Promise, the annual festive celebration which sees businesses opening late and entertainment laid on for families around Easton Square, went with a swing on Friday evening.

Portland Community Partnership worked with local groups including Community 2000 and the churches to pull the event together this year.

The partnership stepped in to ensure the event happened and hopes to build on the success in the future.

The event was run for several years by Island Community Action.

Things got up and running with a welcome ‘cry’ by Portland Town Crier Stuart Cave.

As well as the traditional visit from the Weymouth Beach Donkeys, there was musical entertainment, children’s rides, circus skills, dance displays and, of course, Father Christmas.

Craft stalls were set up, hot drinks were served and choirs sang carols around the Christmas tree.

Some shops extended their opening hours and those seeking quiet reflection away from the square were invited into the Methodist Church and All Saints Church.

Community 2000 hosted the popular donkeys and the Rotary Club sleigh.

Andy Matthews from Portland Community Partnership said: “It went well. There must have been about 4-500 people throughout the evening.

“We arranged for some music and entertainment around the square and a lot of shopkeepers entered into the spirit by offering their own bits and pieces.

“The rain in the daytime may have put a few off.

“What we’re going to do now is have a stock-take and examine what went well, where we can improve or do things differently.”

Mr Matthews said he would like to thank the drop-in centre team, Chris Briggs from the Methodist Church, Wilma Butler and Mike from Community 2000, Andrew Harvey from Hull, Gregson and Hull, Julia Lunn from the Rotary Club, Tim Clark who opened up a shop specially so it could be used as a ‘pop-up’ shop, Stuart Townsend for providing fairground rides, Stuart Cave, and Weymouth and Portland Borough Council.

  • SHOPPERS were serenaded with festive songs at a local food store.

Customers at Littlemoor Co-op were entertained by members of One Voice choir who spent the evening performing in store.

The choir was awarded £400 from the Co-operative’s Wiltshire and Dorset Area Committee to buy branded T-shirts.

Neil Williams, membership officer for the Co-operative in the Weymouth area, helped to organise the event.

He said: “With Christmas just round the corner, we are keen to bring the festive spirit to life in our stores and having worked with One Voice choir previously, a carol session in store seemed like the perfect extension of this partnership.”

One Voice CDs were on sale for £5 each with proceeds split between Weymouth Foodbank and Weymouth and Portland Children’s Centre. To buy a copy visit onevoiceweymouth.com or call John Ellis on 01305 815531.

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