Hundreds join the Midnight Walk party!

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Midnight Walkers ‘light up the night’!

Nearly 400 neon walkers from across West Essex and East Herts came together to ‘light up the night’ and dance in the streets in support of St Clare Hospice’s Midnight Walk on Saturday (1 July) at The Water Gardens, Harlow.

Luminous pink and green outfits set the streets of Harlow aglow at the neon-themed event as walkers of all ages came together to support the biggest fundraiser in the charity’s calendar. Setting the party atmosphere on the night was Heart Radio DJ and Drivetime lead, Matt Mackay, who performed a lively set of popular feel-good tunes, accompanied by energetic and glow-stick fuelled warm-up provided by dance-themed exercise class Clubbercise.

St Clare supporters, clad in fluorescent attire and adorned with luminous accessories, proceeded in a vibrant parade on both a 5k and 10k route, setting off at 11pm. Participants were cheered on at the 1k mark by local fire-fighters from Essex County Fire & Rescue Service at Harlow Central Fire Station, making for an encouraging show of support.

The event organiser, Jamie Hooper, St Clare Fundraising Development Manager, said: “The local community has once again stepped up in support of its local hospice charity, for another year running, with an amazing party attitude. This year our Midnight Walkers did the Hospice proud – turning up in droves to support our biggest event of 2017 and helping to raise thousands of pounds of vital funding so we can continue providing our incredible care.”

Thanking all those who took part, Jamie continued: “A huge, warm-hearted thank you goes out from the St Clare family to each and every person who took part in our event, as well as to the dozens of dedicated volunteers and local businesses who provided us with their support on the night. We are so grateful to the Water Gardens who, once again, hosted the event for us and let us party in style! As always, it is incredibly heart-warming to see people come together in such great numbers to support their local Hospice – which is very close to home for so many people.  We had a fantastic night, raising awareness of the amazing work that St Clare does, and remembering our loved ones by lighting up the night for them.”

Amongst the walkers this year was student nurse at St Clare Hospice, Lydia Straker, who is currently working on the St Clare Inpatient Unit. Lydia set aside her nursing uniform for the night and pulled on her neon get-up in support of the hospice, walking the 10k route with a group of friends in 1 hour 45 mins.

Commenting on the Midnight Walk, Lydia said: “It was absolutely great, I loved it! I didn’t stop singing and dancing the whole way round! It made such a nice change to our normal ‘night out’ – it was amazing to make a difference to an incredible local charity, but while still dancing and having a good time! It feels good to be able to give back and help St Clare, especially having worked as a student nurse there myself and having seen how much the patients and families appreciate the care we give.”

Groups came from across West Essex and East Herts, the catchment area of the hospice, to take part in the Midnight Walk. Amongst the teams was a group from Elsenham Women’s Institute – better known as ‘The Gilbey Girls’ and a team from Epping Foresters Cricket Club who were walking in memory of two of their former members who were cared for by St Clare.

There were a number of teams made up of staff members of the hospice itself, including 17 members of the St Clare retail team coming from Head Office, Dunmow shop, Harlow shop and Loughton shop. The St Clare ‘Retail Babes’ completed the 10k route, with the fastest members returning in 1 hour 40 mins.

The first people across the finish line were Mona Singh (33, Harlow) and Sarah Ayling (36, Harlow) who walked the 5k route in 55mins. Mona and Sarah work together at local Harlow children’s charity, Barnado’s, and wanted to take part in the Midnight Walk as a way of supporting another local charity.

Sarah Ayling said: “We wanted to do something fun together and, as we work for a charity, we know how much support St Clare needs to raise funding. We are also in training for a Muddy Race at the Olympic Park in Stratford, so doing the Midnight Walk was the perfect opportunity for us to practice 5k! Most families been touched by cancer, or a terminal illness, at some point in their lives, and everyone in Harlow seems to know someone who has been helped by St Clare. So it was great to take part in a fun night, whilst also helping a great local cause.”

First back from the 10k route were brothers Lewis and Myles Leverington-Poole from Harlow, who completed the longer route in 1 hour 30 minutes. The pair took part with their mother, Marianne Leverington, and were walking in memory of their two Great Nannies.

It is hoped that the event will have raised £60,000 once all sponsorship money has been collected – enough to fund the Inpatient Unit at St Clare for two weeks.

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