Sailors from the Royal Navy’s ice patrol ship HMS Protector have been getting into the festive spirit by taking part in a Santa fun run on the Antarctic ice for East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices (EACH).

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About 20 members of the ship’s company dressed up as Father Christmas for the run which was held last week in support of Protector’s affiliated charity, which has hospices in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.

The Santas, accompanied by a Rudolph, were led by the executive officer, Commander Don Mackinnon, currently in command for this Antarctic patrol.

He said: “With 21 hours of daylight in every 24, our working day in Antarctica tends to be a long one. Yesterday, for example, our first boat group departed the ship at 8.30am in the morning and the last one finally got back at 1pm that night.

“With that sort of work pace it’s nice to be able to take a break from operations now and again, and do something both for fun and also to help our affiliated charity at the same time.

“Santa’s traditional home might be the North Pole but as you can see he has helpers that visit the other one too.”

The Santa run was conducted on ice in the waters surrounding Deception Island, a dormant, water-filled caldera volcano, one of only two in the world.

Annually, East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices conduct nine Santa runs across Essex and East Anglia throughout the festive period, raising thousands of pounds for the charity.

HMS Protector is affiliated with the city of Cambridge because of its close work with the British Antarctic Survey and the Scott Polar Research Institute which are based there.

HMS Protector has been affiliated with East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices since August.

Denise Norris-Fenn, from EACH, said: “We were absolutely delighted when HMS Protector became affiliated with EACH in August and are looking forward to developing our relationship. The photographs of the Santa Run in the Antarctic waters surrounding Deception Island are stunning and really capture the essence of what Santa Runs are all about; having fun while raising vital funds for such an important cause.”

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