Hundreds of men and women joined the pirate parade through Ipswich town centre on Saturday (16th May) as part of the Midnight Walk in aid of St Elizabeth Hospice – raising an estimated £150,000 in the process.
There were plenty of Captain Hooks and Jack Sparrows amongst the crowd of 1,450 fundraisers who took on the challenge of walking or running five, eight or 13 miles, all starting and finishing at Ipswich Town Football Club on Portman Road.
This year the new and improved circular routes all poignantly passed the Hospice on Foxhall Road, allowing all participants – not just those doing the longer routes – to hang a personalised tag on the beautifully lit Tree of Remembrance in memory of a loved one.
Event organiser, Gavin Lamb, said: “It was a fantastic night and the atmosphere was electric.
“It is always wonderful to see so many people unite for one night to walk or run together, to raise vital funds for the Hospice.
“Many of them have been touched by hospice care and know from personal experience how the money raised from events like the Midnight Walk make such a difference to our patients and their families and carers.
“On behalf of everyone at the Hospice, I would like to say a big thank you to each and every one of you who took part, sponsored someone, and volunteered to help make this event such a success – we estimate that we’ve raised around £150,000 and that is all down to your support and generosity – thank you.”
Before they set off, Hospice patient, Maxine Gould, gave an inspirational speech about the work of the Hospice, and how the support of everyone there helped people like her to live life to the full.
She said: “I am a daughter of Caribbean immigrants, I am 50 years young, I am a mother to my beautiful daughter, I am a sister, I am a registered nurse, I am a friend. I have terminal cancer, and I am still me.
“I have chosen to spend my poorly days, whenever they may come, at the Hospice. The perfectly chosen team of staff from St Elizabeth Hospice, and their Hospice at Home team are working to aid my right to live life to the full – and live life while I’m alive, I will.
“Thanks to all you selfless and wonderful people, I thank you for the daily care I receive and the visits with the amazing Dr Blaken, ensuring my care needs are fully met. For this I thank you all; I thank you for making me smile.”
What the walkers said
Christina Wise, of Ipswich, walked the 13 mile route in memory of her husband Andy, who was cared for by St Elizabeth Hospice last year.
Walking with 10 others to form ‘Andy’s Army’, Christina said: “We’ve raised several hundred between us which will go towards boosting Andy’s Tribute Fund which currently stands at more than £20,000.”
Claire List and Kim Napolitano, both of Ipswich, walked in memory of their auntie Barker, who was cared for by the Hospice three years ago.
They said: “This is the second time we’ve walked in memory of our auntie, who received absolutely fabulous care from the Hospice at Home team.”
Justin Ballantyne, who volunteers at the Hospice’s Retail Centre, in Holywells Road, Ipswich, originally hoped to raised £200, but has now doubled his target, raising more than £400.
Justin, who is severely sight-impaired, was helped along the route by seven volunteers. Before he set off, he said: “I’m buzzing and I’m raring to go. America, France, and Canada are all watching me!”
Gemma McMenemie, Monita Russo, Samantha Roystone, Becki Phillips, of Walton House Dental Surgery, Felixstowe, took on the 13 mile walk.
Becki said: “We’ve raised over £1,200 between us – with more to come!”
Monita added: “Our friend Dawn died at the Hospice last year. We had a lot of laughs together. She was a sports teacher so she was very active. She would have loved this event. We wanted to do it to remember her.”
Sarah Spreadbridge, Laura Halliday, Andrea Roper and Hayley Reed, of Ipswich, formed Foxy’s Bootcamp Babes.
Sarah said: “This is my second Midnight Walk. The Hospice at Home team helped my Mum and made her so comfortable. I wanted to do the Midnight Walk to give something back.
“The nurses really helped me too by being there for mum but also for keeping the banter going and keeping things normal.”
The Morrie Girls, of Ipswich, made up of, Paula Lushington, Julia Welham and Donna Talbot, have all completed the Midnight Walk before.
Julia said: “My mum died of pancreatic cancer. The Hospice at Home team cared for her so we wanted to do this to help raise money for the Hospice. They made Mum comfortable, which was really important.”
Paula said: “My friend’s Mum died at the Hospice last year. This is the second year we’ve done it and we’ve walked 13 miles both times.”
Also waking the 13 miles were Karen Jeffreys, Katarina Brown, Nicola Groom and Sue Greenacre, also known as The Bergholt Girls, of East Bergholt.
Nicola: “My mum stayed at the Hospice recently for four weeks, which was a great help. She’s back at home now. My Dad still gets support from the Hospice for Mum, especially from the OneCall advice line now she’s at home.”
Liam Mckeary, Jodie Thorpe, Denise Rush, Vicky Fowler, Tracey Smith, Chris Poulding and Karen Knight, all took the night off from working at A&E in Ipswich to walk the eight mile route, and have raised a total of £1,000 for the Hospice.
They said: “We had a great night, such a giggle. It wasn’t too rough.
“One of our colleagues has recently lost her mum, who was looked after by the Hospice at Home team, so that spurred us on to take part.
There was plenty of entertainment to keep participants motivated before they set off including wheel gymnasts, the Torwood Wheelers, and leading the pirate-themed warm-up were Just Jay Dance Group – joined by Town 102 DJ’s Tony Horton and Wayne Bavin, and mascot, Cheeko the Monkey.
At the end of their walk or run, all participants were met with a medal and a hot drink.
You can see all the images from the night, which are also available to buy with a percentage of the profits coming to the Hospice, online by clicking here.
You can still support the event and donate £5 by texting MNWK15 to 70070.
The Midnight Walk 2015 is supported by the East Anglian Daily Times, Ipswich Star and Town 102.
With thanks to photographers, Phil Smith and Charlie Mann from www.photographyby.co.uk and Bob Foyers from www.foyers.biz, Just Jay Dance Group, Elm Valley, Coastal Building Supplies, Torwood Wheelers, Capel Plant, Nuffield Health, Crystal Sounds, Kevin Turpin Windows, Macro Wholesalers, 13th Ipswich Sea Scout Group, East of England Co-op, Suffolk Constabulary Police Cadets, GMA Warehousing and Transport, Claydon Skip Hire, Universal PA, ITFC and Maxine Gould.