THEY are hardly your stereotypical Christmas shoppers.

With their colourful red outfits, curly white beards and festive hats, hundreds of people dressed as Santa took over a Hampshire high street yesterday, in the name of charity.

Around 185 people descended on Winchester’s busy shopping precinct, as the season of good will rolled into full swing for the city’s annual Santa Dash.

Runners bobbed and weaved between market stalls and bargain hunters along the High Street, at the start of a 5km route around the city, which was held in aid of Naomi House children’s hospice.

And there were similar scenes in Lymington, where scores more keen fundraisers donned red and white costumes on a 3km run, in aid of Oakhaven Hospice.

Their route took them down Queen Katherine Road to Waterford and then back to the High Street, via Waterford Lane.

Naomi House spokesman Keith Wilson said the hospice at Sutton Scotney, which receives little state funding, hopes to raise around £12,000 from the event.

It will help pay for the essential care of youngsters who use the hospice.