Over 120 people took part in a fundraising Santa Run on Burnham-On-Sea beach on Sunday (December 15th) to raise funds for a cancer support charity in memory of a local boy who died of cancer.

The runners brought an amazingly warm festive spirit to a cold winter’s day in memory of Joe Laoutaris, 12, passed away in 2015 after a two-year battle against Ewings Sarcoma cancer.

Talking to Burnham-On-Sea.com, organiser Nikki Stent said she was delighted with how the event had gone.

“It far exceeded what I’d hoped for in our first year – I was hoping we’d get around 50 runners but I’m thrilled that we had 122! A huge thank you goes to everyone who took part and supported us, raising money for Clic Sargent. It couldn’t have gone better!”

As the runners registered for the run at the top of the jetty, a rainbow formed in the sky above, which an emotional moment for those taking part.

Burnham Boot Camp ran a warm-up before the start on the seafront for the runners, many of whom were dressed in festive fancy dress outfits.

Then runners joined in a minute’s applause in memory of Joe as they made their way down onto the beach for the start of the run.

The route was either 10km or 5km from the jetty to the lighthouse and back. All the winners were awarded free goodies on the finishing line.

Among those taking part was Gareth Chilcott, the former rugby union player who played for Bath and England.

“The Santa Express Run was initially formed by a group of friends joining for a run to celebrate Joe’s memory and it has now spiralled into a local sponsored event which we hope to run every year,” added Nikki.

“Kind thanks go to Joe’s family, Mel, Alex and Dre, Becky Dalziel, Asda, Tesco Burham, Reeds Arms / JD Wetherspoon, and St John’s Ambulance.”

Nicola was also approached by Dave Williams from Approved Air Ltd kindly offering £500 to sponsor her cause, and he then increased this to £1,000 when he realised what the event would be raising money. Nicola was “overjoyed” with the generosity from the company’s owners, Dave and Caroline, as this enabled her to focus on the event as opposed to extra fundraising to pay for the hidden logistics.

She adds: “Joe’s family and Mel have worked relentlessly in raising money for many years, promoting beach walks and park runs to continue Joe’s memory, raising proceeds for Clic Sargent and the Children’s Ward at Musgrove Park Hospital.”

“He was without doubt the happiest young man you could ever wish to meet and despite his continual treatment and daily suffering, he faced this horrific adversity with bravery and ultimate resilience. He will also be my inspiration.”

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