A WALK in the moonlight was just the ticket to raise much-needed funds for St Wilfrid’s Hospice last night (May 9).
Hundreds gathered at the Westgate Leisure Centre, in Chichester, ready to set off for either a five-mile or ten-mile walk through the dark city from 10pm-midnight.
Many were walking in memory of those they had lost, such as Caz Martin, from Bognor Regis, and Claudia Smith, from Pagham.
“My mum died of cancer ten years ago in the hospice and my friend Vicky just died two weeks ago,” said 32-year-old Claudia. “I’m walking for them.”
“My mum was nursed at home but then it got too much so the lovely hospice took her in.”
She described the ‘amazing nurses’ at St Wilfrid’s.
“I was in labour when my mum died,” said Claudia.
“The nurses were really nice. They said I could give birth at the hospice if I wanted.”
Her friend Caz is one of the nurses at the hospice and did the walk this year and last year in memory of her grandad.
“We were so looked after,” said Caz. “That wasn’t because I was staff, the whole family couldn’t fault their care. We’re doing this to say thank you back to them.
“It’s a really nice way to raise some much-needed funds to extend our care.”
So far she had raised £500. Last year was the first year she had done the moonlight walk in memory of her grandad.
“It’s bittersweet,” she said. “The support was amazing. Everyone chivvies everyone along. I think whether you walk in a group or turn up on your own you always help each other through it.”
Colin Rickman and Paul Senior took part on behalf of Selsey Lions Club, which supports the event every year.
“It was a great atmosphere,” said Colin of last year’s event.
“Everybody was walking for some cause – maybe for different reasons but I think it’s quite moving when you get to the half way point and go into the memorial room.
“They do such a wonderful thing the hospice.”
Fresh from competing in the Chichester District Council elections, Barbara Stewart-Newell was out to raise money for the hospice.
“I’m doing it for prospective customers because you never know where it’s going to strike next,” she said. “It’s amazing how much they need just to survive. I’m doing it for prospective customers, whether I know them or not.”
St Wilfrid’s chief executive Alison Moorey has taken part in the event every year it has been running.
“I think it’s fantastic,” she said. “A great atmosphere – a sense really that everyone’s walking for the hospice. It’s a real kind of community, it’s lovely.
“It’s the scale of it: so many people walking through Chichester wanting to support the hospice and people that have very personal stories.
“For so many people they’ve been touched by the hospice and what it does – it’s a way for them to give back.”
She thanked all the people that took part and who helped organise it.
“It’s a massive thing to organise. Everybody does a fantastic job and I would like to thank the people that have given up their time.”
See Thursday’s Observer (May 14) for a list of everyone who took part and pictures from the event.