Runners brave the rain for Sunderland’s Race for Grace

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HUNDREDS of runners braved the rain to take part in the 10th anniversary of Race for Grace.

People donned their running shoes –- and waterproof ponchos – to complete the 5k race around Herrington Country Park to raise money for Grace House hospice.

Race for Grace 2013, Herrington Country Park.

Race for Grace 2013, Herrington Country Park.

Clowns on stilts, children’s characters and dancing youngsters entertained the crowds in the run-up to the race, which was started by children’s author, Terry Deary, who has long been a supporter of the Southwick hospice, which will provide care for sick children and their families.

Terry said: “This is the race I look forward to every year. It’s a happy race, and so many of the people who took part are an inspiration to me.”

Among the 400 runners were 100 students and staff members from Oxclose Community Academy in Washington, led by headteacher Tony Cunningham, and deputy head Julie Lumley.

Mr Cunningham said: “We have been long-term supporters of Grace House, and as it is something we have been involved with for a long time, we decided to take part in the race.” Mrs Lumley added: “We have been overwhelmed by the number of young people who have been prepared to give up their free time to come along and take part in the race.”

Other people taking part in the event were the Richardson family from Silksworth, mum Kay, 51, a nurse, and daughters Laura, 27, who works for Barclays, Louise, 24, a Royal Mail worker, and Beth, 21, a student and shop worker, who were running in memory of the girls’ gran, Ruth Richardson, who died in 2003 aged 68.

Kay said: “She always loved children, so we just decided to run it in honour of her.”

She said the family had supported Grace House in the past and when her husband, Ian, 53, saw the advert for the race, he put his wife and daughters’ names forward.

Mum and daughter Helen and Anna-Leigh Benison, from Hylton Castle, donned their pyjamas to take part in the race.

Lloyds worker Helen, 34, said she and Anna-Leigh, five, a pupil at Hylton Castle Primary, are hoping to raise £300 between them for the charity.

She said: “We just wanted to do it for the children who will use the hospice. They deserve to have the very best.”

The Race for Grace was supported by Mohsen Hussein, from Pizza Uno in Pallion, who was there to provide the runners with a slice of pizza after they crossed the finish line, and Northumbrian Water chipped in to give everyone a bottle of water.

This year, the tombola was organised by the Seaburn Friends Group, with the star prize of a Kindle donated by South Tyneside Police, and staff from Virgin Money in Fawcett Street held a guess the weight of the cake and name the bear stalls.

Karen Maclennan, senior fund-raiser for Grace House, who organised the event, said: “It all went off really well and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, despite the weather.”