A HO-ho-ho-hospice has issued a final call for Father Christmases to join a mass jingle through the streets.

Helen & Douglas House is still recruiting participants for its annual Santas on the Run fundraiser, which sees a spectacular sea of St Nicholas’ sprint and stroll around Oxford.

The hospice has described the fun run, which takes place on Sunday, as an ‘iconic’ event in the city’s calendar.

Among those running this year is Rob Shadbolt, headteacher of Wood Green School in Witney.

The seasoned Santa runner said: “The spirit of it is fantastic. It is so worth getting up early on a Sunday for.

“As you go into Oxford it’s very quiet, then gradually people dressed as Santa start emerging - there are Santas on the bus and Santas cycling.

“Everyone is so friendly and the organisers are excellent. It’s a lovely, heartwarming and slightly surreal event. For us it marks the start of Christmas.”

Mr Shadbolt has taken part with a team from the school for the past five years, and for several years prior to that when he was head of Matthew Arnold School in Botley.

He added: “There is always a team from Wood Green of about 10-20 staff, students and parents.

“Helen & Douglas House is a fantastic cause; we really like to support them and sometimes some of the team have personal connections to the hospice.”

The run starts in Broad Street at 9am on Sunday, following a three-and-a-half kilometre route through University Parks, past the university colleges and back to Broad Street for mince pies.

Last year 2,200 Santas of every age took part, helping the Magdalen Road hospice to care for terminally ill youngsters.

Organiser Hannah Barrett, events manager at the East Oxford charity, said there had been a ‘huge amount’ of interest this year but there are still some spaces left.

Mr Shadbolt said: “I would absolutely recommend it for everyone. You can’t fail to come away feeling uplifted.”

The event, which is wheelchair and buggy friendly, raises money through entry fees and sponsorship, with participants challenged to raise at least £30.

Runners are given a free Santa suit to ensure they look the part, and win a medal for reaching the finishing line.

Ready to run with his Santa hat and snowy white beard is county councillor for Hanborough and Minster Lovell, Liam Walker.

The councillor said: “Helen & Douglas House is a fantastic charity providing crucial support to families and children in Oxfordshire.

“I know it’s been a challenging year for them so I want to do my bit to help raise money and awareness for the incredible work they do.”

Staff from the hospice will also be taking part, as well as some patients and loved ones of former patients who were cared for at Helen & Douglas House.

To sign up online, visit helenanddouglas.org.uk/event/santas-run-2017.