Just under 1,900 women, most in fancy dress, left the start line at Ipswich Town Football Club in Portman Road at 11pm on Saturday May 14 and completed the eight-mile sponsored walk around the town centre.
St Elizabeth Hospice’s Midnight Walk 2011, supported by the Evening Star, East Anglian Daily Times, Star Advertiser and Town 102, is the Hospice’s biggest fundraising event of the year.
Many women walked in memory of a loved-one and the atmosphere on the night was amazing, a mixture of fun and poignancy. Despite a few showers during the warm up, the rain held off for the walk itself.
The women started by taking part in a mass warm up on the practice pitch led by Bollywood dance expert Honey Kalaria, who has performed with many celebrities over the years including Beyonce.
Hospice chief executive Jane Petit said: “I would like to thank all the women who took part in the Midnight Walk 2011 for St Elizabeth Hospice.
“It was a tremendous night and we estimate it raised around £200,000 which will have a real impact on helping us to continue to provide specialist services free of charge for people in Suffolk living with a progressive illness. The money will make a real difference to our patients, their families and carers and on behalf of them I would also like to say thankyou.”
The entertainment at every mile en route proved a hit, particularly the muscly bare-chested men from Felixstowe dressed in collars and cuffs at the California Club in Foxhall Road.
The firemen at the Colchester Road station also got into the spirit of things and the Town 102 mascots added to the fun factor.
And for the first time walkers had a poignant moment for reflection outside the Hospice and the opportunity to have a personal message tied to a memory tree.
The first walkers returned in 1h 50mins with the last arriving back at 3am. They received medals.
The Hospice is a charity which costs £6.6m a year to run and relies on fundraising events and donations to meet the bulk of these costs.
Among those taking part were Susan Bridges, of Easton, near Woodbridge, walking for the second year running in memory of her daughter Melissa who died aged 29 in 2010.
Mrs Bridges said: “It was a great night. The memory tree stop was a nice touch this year.”
Members of Gordon Vince’s family walked in his memory. He died last November aged 60 and his widow Pam Vince, of Ipswich, said: “We had a mixture of emotions but we hope to have raised more than £1,000 between us.”
Julie Slinn, of Ipswich, walked in memory of her father Bernie Jackson and her father in law Bert Slinn – both of them died in March this year. She said: “It was great to see so many people taking part and it was a fantastic night.”
A group called the Bedtime Girls were dressed in PJs and dressing gowns. One of the members Heather Moore, of Ipswich, said: “My husband Mick Moore has prostate cancer at the moment and a few friends and family members have had cancer. We wanted to help a good cause.”
Check out the video below, there are lots more on the Hospice youtube channel, click here to visit the channel.