IT WAS a battle between a cuddly bear and a man in a tuxedo as Havant’s first ‘hug-off’ took place.
The charity event saw dozens of people paying £2 to get a big hug from either David Rose, 35, or Miss Fit, the mascot of Energie Fitness for Women gym in North Street.
And it was a close call.
By 2pm yesterday, they were tied on 14 hugs each.
The money-spinner coincided with National Hug Day and raised money for a new cancer unit for young people at Southampton General Hospital.
The Mayor of Havant, Gerald Shimbart, popped by and got a hug from Miss Fit, alias Susannah Orpwood, 29, a fitness instructor at the gym.
Mr Rose, the husband of gym manager Angie Rose, swapped his advertising job for a day of hugging.
Mr Rose, from Fareham, said: ‘It was fantastic.
‘There was great support. We are 14 hugs each at the moment.
‘It’s a very close contest.
‘I am trying to make a bit more of an effort than my normal scruffy jeans.
‘The ladies are paying for a hug so I thought the tuxedo would help.
‘The Mayor got a hug from Miss Fit and made a very kind donation and enjoyed his hug.
‘We had a bit of a communal hug with the Mayoress.’
The cash raised will add to funds for a new teenage cancer unit.
A total of £400,000 is needed before the unit can become operational this summer.
The cause is close to the hearts of the gym staff as the firm’s chief executive, Jan Spaticchia, lost his teenage daughter to cancer in 2010.
Mr Rose added: ‘I think it’s an amazing cause.
‘Cancer affects a lot of people. For young people, it must be even harder for those guys.
Among those paying for the privilege of a hug was Tina Deacon. The 46-year-old, from Leigh Park, said: ‘It’s lovely.
‘I am a very huggy person.
‘I would give anyone a hug.
‘I would pay £8 to have four hugs!’