AN annual fundraising event which went ‘virtual’ this year has been hailed as a huge success.

The Solstice Saunter, organised by the Airedale Hospital-based Airedale Dodgers running club, normally sees runners cover an eight-kilometre route around the Bolton Abbey estate – in support of Manorlands.

But this year, due to the coronavirus restrictions, entrants were invited to run or walk a 5km route of their choice anytime between sunrise and sunset on the longest day.

A leaderboard was produced of those who chose to submit their times, and participants were invited to contribute photos.

More than 900 people, ranging in age from four to 87, took part. They each received an exclusive medal.

And the event went global, with entries coming in from New Zealand, South Africa and America.

Around £20,000 was raised for the Oxenhope Sue Ryder hospice.

The winning photo was by Claire Nixon, featuring her sister Laura Fairbank greeting the dawn.

Organisers said they were delighted with the success of the event.

Dr Chris Healey, for Airedale Dodgers, said: “We were so impressed by how the whole community took this event to heart.

“You only have to look at the hundreds of photographs submitted to see how much everyone enjoyed themselves.

“We have probably raised more money for Manorlands than we did last year.

“Although we all enjoyed ourselves, it will be good to get back to Bolton Abbey next year.”

He thanked the event sponsor, JB Springs, of Skipton.

Sue Ryder has been badly hit by the Covid-19 lockdown.

All its shops had to shut and a string of fundraising events have been cancelled or postponed.

An emergency appeal was launched by the charity.