Around 200 women and just 17 men took on the 10-mile Moonlight Walk for Rennie Grove Hospice Care on Saturday night (October 15). The new fundraising event saw the glow stick-wielding walkers depart from Westminster Lodge at 8pm, exhilarated and ready to enjoy their challenge after an energising Clubbercise® warm-up to some 90s classics. The rain stopped, the clouds parted and the full moon shone down on the army of walkers, many of whom had personalised their event t-shirts with the names of loved ones.
Helen Andralojc was walking with 10-strong team ‘the Pokey Moms’ in memory of her mum who received care from Rennie Grove at the charity’s Day Hospice. “For the last six weeks of her life, she lived with me,” explained Helen, “and she was able to go back to Day Hospice again during this time, which was so valuable for her and also offered me crucial respite knowing she was in safe hands. The day she died – almost five years ago to this very day - I was in bits and I spoke to Joan Follett, Clinical Lead Day Services at Rennie Grove, who put everything in place for me. She was a lifesaver that day. When Laura said ‘let’s walk’ I had no hesitation.”
Laura Simcott put forward the idea to her fellow ‘Pokey Moms’ - who customised their t-shirts, donned vibrant leg warmers, painted yellow stripes on their cheeks and carried pointing hand ‘wands’ - after completing the charity’s Colour Run last summer and receiving an email about the new event. “The most powerful line in the email was something which said ‘£50 pays for two hours of specialist nursing care’ and I thought, we can do that!” In fact the Pokey Moms’ current total stands at more than £1,000 – enough to fund 40 hours of nursing care in patients’ homes or at Grove House. “On our Just Giving page it says something like: ‘don’t sponsor us because we’re doing anything amazing but because we’re doing it for the local hospice charity, which any one of us could end up needing’,” continued Laura.
Julie Hollerton and her daughter Juliet (14) were walking with the 27-strong team ‘Puffin Mad’ who were stepping out in memory of Sam Othen. “She was the most amazing person and very best friend,” said Julie. Five friends from Hemel joined the mainly St Albans-based team, explaining that they had walked nearly 10 miles in training, admittedly with a part-way pub stop.
The Welwyn Wallies sported a ‘Where’s Wally?’ theme with nine identical striped woolly hats and black-framed circular specs. The distance posed no problem for the hockey team, who live in St Albans but play for Welwyn Garden City. Nat Granger explained: “We signed up because it was something to get us out and about for a really good cause. The hats came about because we took my Nan on holiday with us and we needed a project to keep her busy!”
After about two miles walkers were re-energised with refreshments and a fun photo booth, complete with comedy props, courtesy of Tate Recruitment at St Albans Community Fire Station.
Further round the route proceedings took a more reflective turn with walkers entering the peaceful gardens at Grove House, beautifully festooned with fairy lights. Amidst the gentle glow, walkers wrote messages and secured them in memory padlocks. Pokey Mom Pam wrote a memory lock message for her mum, saying: “We had to come here and put a lock on the gate. It's important when you're doing something like this for a hospice charity to have the chance to get involved and see the hospice first hand.”
Head of Fundraising in Herts, Kate Grigg, said: “Our walkers did brilliantly and created such a buzz. If the fantastic atmosphere is any measure of the event’s success then I think we’ll smash our target of £6,000 ‘profit’. If everyone taking part raises at least £50 in sponsorship that could fund 10 days of 24-hour responsive care in patients’ homes – or 48 sessions in our Day Hospice.”
Kate added that huge thanks were due to the charity’s volunteer marshals too, who gave up their Saturday night to make sure walkers could find their way safely through the streets. She said: “We’d like to thank our corporate sponsors as well, because without their contributions, we couldn’t raise as much money for patient care.”
Local companies offered gifts in kind, prizes and volunteers as well as entering teams and raising sponsorship. Everyone Active (Westminster Lodge) helped to host the event, Helen Kirkby World Rhythms oversaw the warm-up, the King William pub provided a water station and toilet stop, Tate Recruitment sponsored the photo booth, Rachel Jeffery Jewellery sponsored participant ‘race’ numbers, and Aubrey Park Hotel sponsored the glow-in-the-dark medals as well as entering a team.
Visit www.renniegrove.org/jinglebelljog to register for Rennie Grove’s festive fundraising event on Sunday December 4.