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26th January 2016

Cambridge Chariots of Fire raises remarkable £78,000

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More than 2,000 people took part in the big relay run last September, following a 1.7-mile route around the historic city centre.

And yesterday a giant cheque for the amount raised from entry fees and sponsorship was handed over to representatives of the good cause benefiting from the event, East Anglia's Children's Hospices. A bottle of champagne also went to the team who raised the most sponsorship money, the Great Dames, led by Dame Mary Archer, who collected £6,789.

Chariots of Fire is organised by Hewitsons Charitable Trust, and backed by the News. At the cheque presentation, held at Hewitsons' Newmarket Road offices, race director Charles Hewitson paid tribute to all the participants for the amount raised, saying: "We're absolutely delighted, and a special thank-you to Mary Archer and her team too, for the sum they raised, and to our honorary president, Sir Michael Marshall, for his continuing support."

The money will fund Each's True Colours Symptom Management Team, who provide 24-hours-a-day care to sick children, seven days a week. The charity, whose royal patron is the Duchess of Cambridge, runs hospices at Milton, at Ipswich, and Quidenham in Norfolk, but is currently running a £10 million appeal to build a new hospice in Norfolk at Framingham Pigot, near Norwich.

Graham Butland, the charity's chief executive, told the News: "We're amazed and delighted by the huge sum of money raised by Chariots of Fire. We always find that people in Cambridgeshire are incredibly helpful and generous to us, and I'd like to thank everyone who took part in the race last September. "We couldn't deliver the care that we do without that kind of support." It costs about £6 million to run the hospices each year, much of the money coming from public donations.

Cambridge's Mayor Cllr Robert Dryden, who was also at the presentation, said: "The race is very popular, and people deserve credit for raising such a big amount." This year's event – the 25th anniversary of the popular run – will be on Sunday September 18. It will be launched in May, at which time the charity or charities to benefit in 2016 will be revealed.

The race, first held in the grounds of the Perse School, is based on the movie of the same name, which featured the story of Cambridge University athlete Harold Abrahams, and permission to use the Chariots of Fire name has been specially granted by the film's director Lord Puttnam.

Teams of six run in relay around the city centre, some in fancy dress, and there are prizes awarded, including one for the fastest team home.