THE STARTLING sight of almost 300 Santas doing the conga greeted unsuspecting visitors to Wallingford town centre yesterday.

The costumed group had donned the red suits and white beards as part of a Santa dash for charity Style Acre, which help people with learning disabilities and is based in the town.

Organisers also used the opportunity to attempt to break the world record for the most Santas doing the conga.

Philippa Stannard, head of fundraising and marketing for the charity, said: "It wasn't an official world record attempt but we thought it would add an extra bit of fun."

She said with 280 Santas doing the conga in the town's historic Market Square they had comfortably beat the highest figure they could find online of 250.

Among them was Sarah Stuart and her sons Alex, 5, and Oliver, 6, along with a group of more than 30 children and parents from the nearby village of Benson.

She said: "It's a great cause and it is great for the kids to do something like this that is fun but also getting them into exercise as well."

She added: "It looked like such a good time last year that we knew we wanted to get involved this time."

Meanwhile Fiona Smith, 61, ran with a team from the Body Training Studio gym in Wallingford.

She said: "It's exciting to take part in something like this where there are so many people of all ages and even some dogs, dressing up for charity."

Last year, more than £2,000 was raised and, though sponsorship money is still coming in, the event is on course to bring in more than £3.500.

Ms Stannard said: "It's fantastic that so many people take part, we had a couple of hundred last year for the first one and it's obviously grown again this time.

"We wanted to do something that was really rooted in the community and it feels like we've really achieved that."

The charity's patron Christine Wallace, who starred in 2013's Great British Bake Off, was also there to cheer on runners as they set off from Wallingford School.

She said: "It is such a good cause and I knew when I got involved that I didn't just want to be a silent patron who didn't go out and do things."

Commenting on the sheer number of Santas, she added: "It's absolutely amazing, driving up you could see them all over the place."

The baker, who lives in Didcot, said she had not been tempted to join the runners as she had a bad knee but would be working with the charity in the new year to put on baking classes.