TWENTY Santas are set to walk together through York tomorrow in a bid to make patients’ stays at York Hospital more comfortable and relaxed.

The Friends of York Hospitals (FOYH) is organising its first ‘Santa stroll’, which will be led by a piper, a ‘reindeer’ and an elf and will set off from York Railway Station at 10.30am.

The Father Christmases will take a route via Lendal Bridge, St Helen’s Square and Stonegate to the Minster before returning along the same route to the station, carrying buckets to collect donations.

Friends spokeswoman Stephanie Neale said it had about 140 volunteers who sang with patients to boost morale, manned a mobile newspaper and library trolley, provided refreshments and guided people through the hospital.

It also helped provide ‘night owl’ sleep packs to reduce the noise on busy wards, non-contact thermometers reduce infection and refurbishments to waiting areas.

The Santa stroll comes after a series of seasonal fundraisers runs in the region, including 95 runners who took part in a Santa Fun Run last Saturday.

Each Santa completed a lap of Knavesmire's running track which measures 3.2 km (1.9 miles). Some Santas competed to win whilst others were happy just to enjoy the walk, helping to raise £3000 for the Wilberforce Trust.

The funds will be spent to build a Community Living and Learning Zone for people with sight and hearing loss as part of the charity's new development of accessible, state-of-the-art apartments on Tadcaster Road.

The trust's CEO, Philippa Crowther, who participated as a Santa in the race, said: “Just seeing and being part of a sea of Santas was a fabulous experience as well as being great fun.

"The money raised will make a very vital contribution to raising funds for our new Living and Learning Zone which will give people an opportunity to meet socially and learn new skills in a community venue.”

The Wilberforce Trust provides services for people with sight and hearing loss to help them to remain as independent as possible for as long as possible and make the most of their available sight and hearing.