Nearly 1,000 people hit the streets of Horsham on Saturday night for the St Catherine’s Hospice Midnight Walk - and their efforts are set to raise an incredible £150,000.
Men, women and children made their steps count by walking two, seven, 13 or 20 miles in aid of the Crawley-based hospice which supports people facing death and bereavement.
Sponsored by Gatwick Airport, the night began at Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre with music, a glitter station and a lively warm up by international fitness presenter, Jo Cooper.
Following the warm up there were heartfelt speeches from Deborah Edmonds, head of occupational health and wellbeing at Gatwick Airport, and Giles Tomsett, St Catherine’s chief executive who wished walkers luck as they set off on their challenge.
Deborah said: “The work of St Catherine’s Hospice has touched many hearts at Gatwick Airport and I’m really proud of my colleagues who completed the walk to raise money for others in their community.
“Tonight’s been a great reminder of just how many local people are touched by St Catherine’s work.
“Gatwick is very proud to work alongside the hospice and we look forward to continuing to support them.”
To cheers from volunteer marshals, walkers set off in a sea of orange and neon.
They enjoyed a brand new glow lane, and as they walked past St John’s Church in Broadbridge Heath, many of them took the chance to light a candle in memory of a loved one
Amongst the walkers were a team of community nurses from St Catherine’s who walked 20 miles.
Nursing Assistant, Katie Costello said: “I took part in this year’s Midnight Walk because I feel passionately about the work we do at the hospice.
“Everyday, I see firsthand how invaluable end of life support is, especially to people in their own homes.
“And I wanted to do my bit to make sure that care continues to be there for more people in the future. It was a fantastic atmosphere tonight.
“The volunteers were amazing in encouraging us on, and it was humbling to walk alongside so many other people, who, like me are committed to making a difference to local terminally ill people. I know many of those walking tonight have experienced our hospice care and it was particularly poignant to see the in memory candles at the church on route.
“I hope everyone feels as proud as I do of completing such an amazing challenge.
“It’s only by all of us getting behind the hospice through events like this, and helping to raise money, that I and my nursing colleagues can be there to care for people.”
After completing their challenge, walkers crossed the finishing line to cheers from hospice staff and volunteers, before posing for photograph mementos which they could buy for a donation to the hospice.
Walkers then enjoyed breakfast and prosecco whilst wearing their medals to mark their incredible feats.
Louise Wise, events fundraiser at St Catherine’s, said: “To see nearly 1,000 people walking to support our hospice was incredible.
“We’re so grateful to each of them for giving up sleep to support us. And their efforts in raising money for us takes us nearer to making sure that nobody in our community faces death and loss alone in the future.
“I’d also like to thank Gatwick Airport and all our amazing volunteers. We couldn’t have run the Midnight Walk without them. It was unforgettable!”
To find out how you can take part in future challenges, visit www.stch.org.uk