Around 1,300 men and women took part in the Midnight Walk, St Elizabeth Hospice’s biggest fundraising event of the year on Saturday 18th May – raising around £110,000.
This was the first year the normally ladies-only sponsored night-time circular walk around Ipswich town centre had been opened up to men – and this year participants could also choose to run the route, setting off at 11pm from Ipswich Town Football Club in Portman Road.
There were two routes to choose from, a five mile and an eight mile.
Participants ranged from groups of friends and families walking in memory of a loved one, to those wanting a fitness challenge or just a unique fun night out.
They were all united in raising money to grow local Hospice care for local people.
The longer route poignantly passed St Elizabeth Hospice in Foxhall Road, Ipswich, where there was an opportunity for reflection and to hang a personal message on the Tree of Remembrance.
The night had a carnival theme with various local entertainers performing free of charge before the walkers and runners set off en route. People were encouraged to dress up, with outfits including carnival gear, tutus, an elephant costume, cowboy hats and flashing headgear.
The entertainers were:
- Lou Safire, the fire eater
- Escape Reality, a freerunning and freestyle group
- IPSUMYC, an African drumming and hooping group
- Samboomba, the Samba band
- Elvis Presley impersonator Simon Goldsmith
- Torwood Wheelers
The mass warm-up was led and sponsored by local aerobics instructor Julie Foster while Town 102 DJs Nick Pandolfi and Dave James motivated the crowd before taking part in the walk themselves.
Local off-duty police officers dressed as Top Gun characters were also en route to hand out refreshments.
Alison Lanchester, St Elizabeth Hospice’s Director of Income Generation and Marketing, said: “Our first Midnight Walk with men and women was fantastic. The atmosphere was amazing, a mixture of fun and reflection and we would like to thank all the walkers and runners for their achievement and everyone who sponsored and supported them.
“We estimate the Midnight Walk 2013 raised around £110,000 which will make a huge difference helping us to continue to provide specialist services free of charge to local people living with a progressive illness.
“On behalf of all our patients, their families and carers who will benefit from this support I would also like to say thank you.”
She added she was grateful to the 200 volunteers who helped out on the night. “Without them we wouldn’t have been able to put on an event of this scale.”
The rain held off and, at the end of the walk, everyone was rewarded with a medal and a well-deserved hot drink, provided by Starbucks.
The first runners made it back in around 30 minutes, while walkers took two to three hours.
Mark Branton, 49, of Felixstowe, was taking part in memory of his mum Lily Branton. He said: “As soon as I realised men could take part this year I jumped at the chance. My mum was cared for at the Hospice for just 48 hours at the end and we were so pleased she had her last moments there as it made the world of difference.”
Wendy Bloom and Steven Allison, of Ipswich, walked in memory of their mum Lily Allison and were joined by family members Philip and Darren Bloom. Wendy said: “The Hospice cared for mum at home and they were marvellous so we wanted to give something back.”
It was a poignant night for ten members of the Banthorpe family, who were walking for Carl Banthorpe and Joan Storer who died in the last few months.
Team Tom – made up of Gwen Wall, Wendy Filby and Rachel Wall all walking in memory of Tom Wall who died a year ago and hope to have raised over £500 in sponsorship. “We wanted to give something back and the Midnight Walk is so close to the anniversary of Tom’s death it makes it even more poignant,” said Gwen, Tom’s widow.
St Elizabeth Hospice is an independent charity which relies on the generosity of the local community to fund the majority of its £8.7 m running costs. It provides services free of charge to people living with a progressive illness in East Suffolk and South Norfolk.
You can still support the event and donate by texting MNWK13 £5 to 70070. The Hospice will receive every penny from the donation and you can Gift Aid your donation, making it worth 25% more.
Midnight Walk 2013 was supported by Town 102, the Ipswich Star and the East Anglian Daily Times.