One of the biggest annual events in the town saw 2,500 people pound the pavements of Ipswich all with the shared aim of raising £200,000 for a local charity.
The Midnight Walk, organised by St Elizabeth Hospice, took place on Saturday 20 May and saw the town centre and surrounding areas up to the hospice and back covered in walkers decked out in their neon finery.
The walk is now in its eleventh year and, for the first time in its history, sold out of tickets almost two weeks before the event.
Catherine Sheppard, events and challenges fundraiser at the hospice, said: “It takes a lot of hard work and organisation to put on such a big event and I’d like to thank all those who have given up their free time to put on such an extraordinary night.
“Everyone has had a fantastic time and we’ve had some wonderful entertainment ranging from the incredibly moving rendition of Let It Be to the highly energetic performance from Just Jay Dance and the Townsend Twins.
“Most of all, I’d like to thank each and every one of the 2,500 people that took part in the Midnight Walk this year for their support, not only in attending and taking part but for their fundraising that run alongside it. The money raised tonight is really going to help us care for local people and their families both at the hospice and in their own homes.”
Walkers were greeted as they registered to face painting and still walkers and the atmosphere built up as the gathered crowd grew on the Cornhill.
Hospice Chief Executive Mark Millar welcomed the crowd and said: “St Elizabeth Hospice has been part of the Ipswich and east Suffolk community for 28 years. We intend to continue being here for everyone and are committed to developing our service to meet the growing needs we face.
“Tonight is about remembering loved ones and all those for whom we’ve cared. It’s about celebrating their lives and your memories. It’s about us creating more memories, here and now, together. It’s about all of us having fun, supporting each other and raising funds.”
Mr Millar was followed by Wendy Goddard whose daughter Zoe passed away at the hospice last year at the age of 27. She bravely addressed the crowd to talk about the difference St Elizabeth made to the last few weeks of Zoe’s life. “She was able to be Zoe again. We had precious time together. We lived summer days in the sunshine, listening to the sounds of birds and looking at the pond. She was able to relax in the jacuzzi bath, which she loved.
“I could watch over her when she slept at night. I had done this so many times when she was a little girl. I was able to be her mum again.
“Now she is gone, I cherish the memories of those last few, golden weeks; they mean everything to me.
St Elizabeth Hospice made those memories for me. “
Following Wendy, the crowd held a minutes’ silence to remember all those that passed away before Pop Chorus gave a moving rendition of Let It Be. Just Jay Dance also entertained the walkers before the Townsend Twins completed the warm up.
Following a countdown, cannons were fired launching confetti in to the crowd to signal the start of the walk. 2,500 people then headed off on their chosen six or 12 mile walk.
The Midnight Walk took hospice supporters from the Cornhill, through the streets if Ipswich, along Colchester Road, up to the hospice where they were greeted by a UV tunnel, making a wonderful display of their neon outfits.
Once outside the hospice, walkers were able to complete remembrance tags which then adorned the memory tree.
Walkers then began their journey back to the town centre via Foxhall Road, where they were greeted by cheering staff and volunteers and were presented with a medal and well deserved hit chocolate.