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Saturday, 04 July 2015

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Among those who took part in the walk were four women from Mayfield School, in Whitehaven. They were doing it in memory of a former teacher at the school.

PINK bunny ears, glitzy wigs, tutus and the 1,450 women who took part in Whitehaven’s Midnight Walk was a sight nothing short of phenomenal.

As was the whopping amount of money – estimated to be around £110,000 – which has been raised for Hospice at Home West Cumbria.

Last Friday night, the sisters were doing it for themselves and the hundreds of local people who would ultimately benefit from the cash raised by their actions.

Supported by their male marshals and dozens of well-wishers along the route, the women of West Cumbria should be rightly proud of their achievements.

This tightly-organised event was good-natured from the off with large groups of friends, sisters, mothers and daughters, colleagues and strangers bonding over their need to help others.

Gillian Chadwick, community fundraiser for the Hospice, was delighted with the response to Friday night’s six-mile walk.

“The turnout is absolutely brilliant,” she told The Whitehaven News on the night.

“The sea of flashing bunny ears is such a sight and I am so pleased everyone is enjoying themselves and raising money for a good cause.”

The small Hospice team (Gillian Chadwick, Bob Barnby and Dawn Ousby) which organised the event, were supported by an army of volunteers.

“It was an absolutely fantastic night and what made it for me was that everyone had a good night, the camaraderie was brilliant,” said Gillian.

“We had a 300-strong team of volunteers who helped throughout the day and night and in the weeks and months leading up to the event. Without them this event would not be possible.”

She said next year’s event will be in Workington and then back to Whitehaven the following year.

CFM presenter Robbie Dee warmed the crowd up with a roadshow in Tesco’s car park including dancing, karaoke, keep fit and plenty of fun.

“Good evening lasses. I never thought I would see this sight this side of heaven,” said the Rev John Bannister, Rector of Whitehaven, addressing the crowds.

“Hospice at Home West Cumbria is an exceptionally important part of our community here and what you are doing this evening is absolutely fantastic,” he added before holding a minute’s silence.

On the stroke of midnight, spirits were high as the ladies made their way up New Road. Passing motorists sounded their horns in support.

As the sea of sparkly women passed along the Loop Road, through Hensingham Square they were encouraged by people waving from their bedroom windows.

This support continued through Mirehouse where the walkers were cheered on by amused revellers back from a night out.

There was also plenty of back-up from the stewards, many of whom were husbands and partners of the women walking and at St Andrew’s Church, there was much needed water, biscuits and toilet facilities as the effects of the walk started to kick in!

As the pink ladies headed for the final stretch along Whitehaven’s harbour, all agreed that although they were exhausted, their feet were throbbing and they were looking forward to their beds, it had been a great achievement on a surprisingly rain free night.

“Rachel Matthews died in January of cancer so we are doing it in memory of her,” said Sue Fox. Sue herself has been treated for cancer but said she is fine now.

She was with Kate Ashworth, Claire Chilton and Juliet Bell. Juliet was also paying respect to the six members of her family who had passed away.

Abigail McKenzie, of Whitehaven, certainly stood out from the crowd in her “sumo suit”. She was with her mum Hilary and together they had raised £200. “We wanted to do it for a night out and because it’s a good cause,” said Hilary.

Dressed in glamorous pink wigs, which had been used for a hen night in Benidorm and then kept especially for the Midnight Walk, was a group of 12 ladies from Whitehaven, St Bees, Workington and Maryport. They were Marlene Harrison with daughters Angela and Lisa, Rhiannon Green, Val Jewell, Caroline Walker, Sarah, Brenda and Maddie Courty, Diane and Becca Nicholson and Gillian Walsh. Marlene said: “Hospice at Home is a local charity and our families have benefited from it in the past.”

Some of the ladies had also completed a Workington to Keswick walk for the Hospice.

Gill Strickland’s 88-year-old father, William Wildgoose, had an operation four years ago and is now doing fine. Gill, of Lowca, was there in support of her father, also of Lowca, and was joined by her niece Lisa Wildgoose, Stacey Chester, Debbie Clague and Sarah Harrington. They were also taking part in memory of Debbie’s nana, Margaret.

Joy Temple and Jean Lewthwaite, both of Moor Row, are firm friends. Joy is a retired district nurse, now a Hospice nurse. She is one of a group of carers which looks after Jean’s husband, Derek, a patient of the Hospice.

“You do become good friends with the nurses,” said Jean. “It is a very good organisation and that is why I am doing this walk to try and give something back.”

Sue Jolly, LighterLife counsellor wore the five-stone ‘fat suit’ on the night. Sue has lost a massive 16 stone on the LighterLife programme.

Also walking and raising funds were friends Denise Graham, Sharon Toman and Allyson Holden, all of Whitehaven, and Christine McNicholas, of Workington.

Julie Kennedy, of Whitehaven, works at West Cumberland Hospital’s Henderson Suite. She was with cousins Kathleen Millican, Sandra Rickerby and Margaret Pooley, as well as Kathleen’s daughters Kelly Walby and Lynsey Millican and Margaret’s daughter Jenna.

Julie said: “We have had family members with cancer and wanted to give something back to the people that look after them.”

On the walk was a large group from Emmaus House care home, at Moresby Parks. They included June Clarke, Carol Young, Linda Cobban, Sylvia O’Connor, Susan Sampson, Ann Metcalfe, Katherine Jenner, Katrina Halcrow, Ailsa Quinn and Susan Donall.

West Cumbrian physiotherapists were also taking part, They were Anna Lawler, Lynn Symonds, Lorraine Rowe, Linda Nutter, Anna Owens, Priya George, Barbara Finlinson, Dot Kerr and Marijke Cassee.

Dr Maggie Bober was amongst a group of women who were there to support such a worthwhile cause. They were Christie Waddington, Hannah Holt-Davis, Ruth Bober, Sharon Tomlinson, Marion Batey, Jill Batey and Carol Local.

Helen Starkey, of Whitehaven, said the charity had helped looked after her mum, Josephine Finlinson, while Christine Ennis said she was taking part in memory of her sister-in-law, Carol Morgan, who died of cancer three years ago. They were were accompanied on the walk by their friends Gillian Douglas and Margaret Wilson.

Claire Benson was walking with a group of 30 women from United Utilities, call centre in Whitehaven (the company had donated the water bottles).

She has recently lost just over eight stone, helped by Lighter Life and trainer Kay McMahon. Call centre manger, Carolyn Herbert, said its employees actively supported local charities and were delighted to be taking part in the event.

Others taking part in the walk were Janine McGill and her fiancée, Steven McGill, who had volunteered to be a marshall. Fiona Martin was there with her friend Sarah Newton.

Barbara Carr was there with her sister, Linda Massa, and friends, Helen King, Leanne Fox and Donna Goodwin. “You have to support the charity because you never know when you will need them,’’ Barbara commented, speaking for many of the walkers.

Volunteers from St John Ambulance also attended the walk keeping an eye out for sprains, dehydration problems and, since the temperature was dropping, hypothermia.

They were Nicola Martin, Neil Hurst, Craig Hurst, Pauline Hurst, Tony Johnston, Graeme Newby.

All participants were given a goody bag by the Hospice which included a ticket for free entry to the Haven vs Barrow match in July and received a medal on completion of the walk.

Hospice at Home West Cumbria cares for terminally ill people in the area, as well as offering vital support for family members and loved ones.


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