More than 400 people took to the streets of Swindon on Saturday night for Prospect Hospice’s Starlight Walk - and their efforts look set to raise more than £40,000.
Men, women and children dressed in brightly coloured and glowing outfits made their steps count by walking either a ten or fifteen kilometre route to raise money for the hospice which supports people in our community who are affected by a life-limiting illness.
Sponsored by Imagine Cruising the night began at Swindon Town Football Club with an energetic Clubbercise-style warm up led by local fitness instructor, Amy Fitness.
Prior to the warm up there were speeches from Tim Willis, chair of the board of trustees, and Amy Francombe, community and events manager at Prospect Hospice who both thanked walkers for their support and wished them luck as they set off on their challenge.
Tim said: “Starlight Walk has raised more than half a million pounds towards our nursing care since it first took place more than a decade ago. We are largely dependent on the support we receive from people in our community who give their time, raising vital funds that enable us to care for the patients and families we meet each year.”
Among the walkers were the family and friends of Mandy Smith. Mandy spent her final days being cared for by the hospice, following a short illness, before she died in February 2019.
They signed up to walk in memory of Mandy, and to say thank you to the hospice for the care the family received. Mandy’s family said: “Mandy was the definition of selfless and bravery. She was a beautiful person inside and out and always put others first even when she was ill.”
Her sister Lynn said: “Prospect Hospice was absolutely amazing, they made Mandy feel safe and loved in her final days. Mandy felt loved by everyone that looked after her. The staff made her last days so comfortable and made her feel that she was loved and special.
“The compassion shown towards Mandy and our family was heart-warming. Everything they did for Mandy was truly outstanding and I will be forever in their debt.”
Mandy’s sisters Lynn, Kathy and Karen put together a group called ‘Mandy’s Robins’ to take part in the Starlight Walk, which included three of Mandy’s children, friends and members of Lynn’s walking group, making a team of eighteen.
They drew inspiration for their team name from when Mandy was in the hospice, as two robins came to visit every morning and sat on the bird table by Mandy’s window.
They paid a special tribute to Mandy on the back of their event t-shirts. Lynn said: “Starlight Walk gave us an opportunity to reflect and spend time together.”
Kate Crutcher, Starlight Walker said: “So magical to see the illuminated gardens on our walk, a great boost to the moral. Thank you Prospect Hospice for all your hard work. And thank you for the yummy soup that greeted us on our return.
“A huge thank you to all the volunteers. We thoroughly enjoyed our walk in memory of our loved ones and hope the walk will raise lots of funds.”
After completing their challenge and lighting up the night across Swindon, walkers crossed the finishing line at the County Ground to cheers from hospice staff and volunteers, before enjoying delicious soup made by Prospect Hospice’s catering team and pizza donated by Domino’s whilst wearing their medals to mark their incredible feats.
To find out how you can take part in future challenges, visit www.prospect-hospice.net.