A VALENTINE'S Day hugathon will boost Wigan and Leigh Hospice funds.

What is claimed to be Greater Manchester’s first ever Hugathon gets underway tomorfrow (Thursday) at Ena Mill store in Atherton.

Customers will be encouraged to donate a discretionary amount to the Hospice for each hug received - on a strictly one hug per customer basis.

Ena Mill's Simon Yates said: "I’ve been a retailer in the North West for over 30 years and I know customers in our region are an affectionate bunch, especially in Atherton. I think it’ll be nice to show our customers what they mean to us. And what better way to do it than with a hug?

“Staff have been putting in a lot of practice over the last few days. We’ve been fully trained on hugging protocols. So we’re ready for anything. I’d encourage anyone who would like a hug on on February 14 to visit Ena Mill and choose a staff member who fits the bill.”

Hospice corporate director Mike Parr said: “What a great idea. We want to thank Ena Mill and their staff for their support in this novel and innovative way. Make sure you go along for your friendly hug on Valentine’s Day. In doing so.”

The February 14 hugs begin at 9am and the last hug will be no later than 5pm.