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A record-breaking number of walkers lit up the streets of Chesterfield for Ashgate Hospice’s popular Sparkle Night Walk fundraiser over the weekend.
Donning pink outfits and flashing bunny ears, more than 3,100 supporters stepped out for the return of the charity’s biggest fundraiser, sponsored by Technique, on Saturday 1st July.
More than £150,000 has already been raised to help fund end of life care and support – with the charity hoping to see the figure rise to more than £200,000 in the coming weeks.
The 10k walk began and finished at Chesterfield Football Club’s stadium, with walkers setting off at 10pm and live entertainment kicking off the party at 7.30pm.
Amongst those taking part was Malcolm Green, 80, who walked in memory of his daughter Vicky Morton after she died at the hospice in January this year, aged just 50.
Vicky, from Dronfield, had been diagnosed with breast cancer five years before and received “first-class” care at home and on the hospice’s Inpatient Unit.
Malcolm, who was joined by his son-in-law Russ and grandsons, Ben and Toby among other family and friends, said: “Events [like the Sparkle Night Walk] just show how much the hospice means to so many people.
“I must admit the treatment and support Vicky received was absolutely first-class. She only went into the hospice for the last week of her life, but she received care at home for the last three to four months, which helped her with pain relief and other things. It was just so wonderful.
“I’m a member of a walking club so friends have been saying the walk will be a breeze for me, but at 80 years of age I’m not so sure! There’s about another 12 of us – this is the largest number of participants there’s ever been which is remarkable.”
Elaine Darwent, from Bolsover, took on the walk with family and friends, who collectively raised more than £1,000 for the hospice in memory of her husband, Paul Darwent.
She said: “There’s seven of us here and we’ve raised nearly £1,000 in memory of my husband who was cared for by the community nurses at the end of his life.
“The atmosphere here has been so great and we’ve loved taking part. We’re all so proud to be here in Paul’s memory and hopefully he’s been looking down on us.”
Paul, who had glioblastoma, a rare and aggressive brain cancer, was cared at home by the hospice’s nurses until his death in December 2022, aged 65.
Elaine added: “They looked after Paul and also made sure I was okay; they gave me a bit of free time as I was caring for him 24/7.
“When the hospice started caring for Paul it meant I could become his wife again and not just his carer, so we could focus on making lots of memories together. We were together eight years – it was happiest time of my life.”
Lex Crossett and her eldest son Finn Crossett, from Wingerworth, were joined by family at the walk.
Finn, who uses a wheelchair, has been receiving support at the hospice’s Day Services and signed up for the fundraiser to give something back.
Lex said: “My friend Dawn and I have done the Sparkle Night Walk for the last three years together; last year Ashgate cared for my neighbour before she died and this year our eldest child makes the most of our Day Services.
“It’s so much fun, there’s such a great atmosphere at the Sparkle Night Walk and it’s for such a wonderful cause. We go to the hospice with Finn for a bit of time together – they’re always so friendly and so warm whenever we need a bit of help.”
This year, the event smashed the previous record of 3,052 participants in 2019 as a total of 3,114 supporters turned out on Saturday evening.
The 10km route took walkers from the stadium down the A61 bypass, which was closed to traffic, past the Crooked Spire and through the streets of Chesterfield before returning to the football ground.
Charlotte Gratton, Events and Partnerships Manager at Ashgate Hospice said: “We have been absolutely blown away by the amount of people who turned out for our Sparkle Night Walk on Saturday evening.
“The event was our most popular ever and we’re so grateful to our supporters and volunteers who made it such a huge success.
“It’s always incredible to see the North Derbyshire community come together to help us fund our care, but to see more than 3,000 walkers there on this occasion was extra special.
“The amount of money we’re expected to receive in donations will go such a long way towards being there for the patients and families who need us most.
“Thank you to our main sponsors Technique, other generous sponsors and many local businesses for their generosity and support.
“I would also like to thank everyone behind the scenes, including an army of incredible volunteers – without them, we simply wouldn’t be able to organise such a big and exciting event for all of our supporters to enjoy. We hope to see everyone back again next year!
Super early bird registration for next year’s event has opened and will be available at a reduced rate until 13th August, with the walk set to take place on Saturday 22nd June 2024.
To find out more about next year’s Sparkle Night Walk and to register for the super early bird price of £8 go to: www.ashgatehospice.org.uk/sparkle-night-walk