Never has breakfast been better deserved than it was for 200 early risers who walked 13 miles at sunrise to support babies, children and young people with life-limiting conditions.
The Shooting Star Chase Sunrise Walk, which is now in its second year, began and ended at the stunning 17th Century stately home Ham House.
Lanterns decorated the start line, remembering some of the children and families supported by the charity.
The scenic route took walkers through some of the best spots in the area including Richmond Park, Hampton Court Palace and views across the River Thames and the city of London.
At the end of the walk everyone received a commemorative medal and their well-deserved breakfast, which they enjoyed in the beautiful sunshine back at Ham House.
Shooting Star Chase is a leading children’s hospice charity caring for babies, children and young people with life-limiting conditions, and their families.
The charity’s CEO, David Burland addressed the walkers before they set off. He reminded them that the care and support the charity provides doesn’t stop throughout the night so neither should the fundraising.
“I’m sure it would have been hard getting up at such an unearthly hour this morning,” he said. “But I’m sure you’ll agree, by the time you’ve finished the walk the tiredness will be replaced by a fantastic sense of achievement. To think you’ve really helped local children and their families, and all before breakfast, is an amazing feeling.
David, who also took part in the walk, continued: “While you’re walking please think of all the parents and guardians in our community who are up throughout the night caring for their child and in some cases giving them medication or ventilation to keep them alive.
“The money raised from the Sunrise Walk will make a real difference. Just £100 will allow us to provide one hours care through the night to a family in need.”
Michelle Taylor, who was taking part in her second Sunrise Walk in memory of her daughter Maia, said: “My daughter Maia used the hospice when she was alive and when she passed. She was referred to Shooting Star Chase quite early and we thought we didn’t want to take her to a hospice as it’s probably a really sad and depressing place.
“We had Hospice at Home and they said about hydrotherapy, which Maia really liked, so we went to Shooting Star House and we thought ‘wow this place is amazing’. We did lots of stay-overs, we spent a lot of time together there, creating so many happy memories that we couldn’t have done otherwise.”
Since Maia died Michelle has put a lot of effort into fundraising for Shooting Star Chase, including taking part in two Sunrise Walks and the Virgin London Marathon.
“We’re so lucky how beautiful the scenery is on the Sunrise Walk, it’s such a distracting feature when you’re sore. It’s a lovely walk and so unique too at this time of the morning. There’s not a walk locally that’s better than this.”
Emma Willshire, Challenge Events Fundraiser at Shooting Star Chase, said: “It was another fantastic year at our Sunrise Walk.
Thank you to all of the walkers who set their alarms at stupid o’clock in the morning and joined us. We were so lucky that the sun was shining for us, which only made the stunning route look even more beautiful.
“It is too early to tell yet just how much the event has raised, but last year it raised £48,000 and we are hoping to achieve this again.
“I’d also like to thank our fantastic volunteers who helped with everything from registration to marshalling, putting up signage and taking photographs. We couldn’t do it without you.”
To see all the photos from the day visit shootingstarchase.org.uk.
Report and pictures contributed by The Shooting Star Chase,