FATHER Christmas paid tribute tonight to 100 or so impersonators who took part in a charity fun run in March earlier today.

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In an exclusive interview he praised those dressed to look like him and who raised hundreds of pounds for a children’s hospice.

“As you know I am so terribly busy and this time of year it’s excruciatingly tiring,” he said.

“So when EACH – that’s the East Anglia Children’s Hospice- asked if I minded if people dressed to look like me went out to raise money for them I was delighted to give my blessing,” said Father Christmas.

He said he was particularly impressed by the range and ages of those taking part in the fun run from the Oliver Cromwell Hotel and thought the organisers “brilliant” for staging such an event.

“I got shown the winners of the best dressed Santa competition and though not necessarily quite my thing – I don’t do too much glitz as you know- I thought they were superb,” said Father Christmas.

He added: “They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and thank goodness it. “How could I possibly prepare for Christmas if I didn’t get so many jolly folk helping me out in the run-up to the big day?”

Father Christmas said he couldn’t help but notice the organisers had advertised a ‘fun run’ but then added competitors could ‘walk or jog”.

He said: “I think I would have been somewhere between a walk and jog had I got there myself.”

The Santa Run came mid way through a weekend craft and Christmas fair at the Oliver Cromwell Hotel that combined charity efforts and the work of those creating mainly home made crafts.

Hotelier Councillor Rob Skoulding – whose family ran two charity stalls themselves- said he was “absolutely delighted” with the weekend.

“It’s simply nice we can give something back,” he said.

He thanked EACH for organising the run, The Lions for supporting it with marshalling and stewarding, his hotel staff for getting behind the weekend and the Mayor, Councillor Jan French, for attending and touring the stalls.

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