Over 165 local women (and a handful of men) signed up to stroll through the streets of St Albans in a 10-mile Moonlight Walk for Rennie Grove Hospice Care on Saturday September 23. Following an electric warm up from Naomiczumba Dance, walkers departed from Westminster Lodge in to the cover of night. An unseasonable warmth allowed them to display proudly their personalised event t-shirts with the names of loved ones on the back.
Debbie Dashwood, a mother from Flitwick, bought sister Joanna Deacon (who then brought daughter Olivia and friend Alison along) to walk in aid of her mum who’s receiving respite care from Rennie Grove nurses in Hemel Hempstead. Debbie said: “the nurses have done so much for my mum and for us, they’re always on hand when we need them and they’re such a great team. My mum comes here to St Albans and visits the day hospice at Grove House, which is a great help too.”
Ladies were greeted with refreshments handed out by firemen as they powered by St Albans Community Fire Station.
Hot drinks and the opportunity to remember and reflect were provided towards the end of the route as walkers were welcomed in to the peaceful gardens at Grove House, gently decorated with fairy lights. The glow led groups down the memorial Path of Life to a gate where walkers wrote messages and secured them in memory padlocks.
The Fenn family from Harpenden; mother Fran, with her daughters Nikki and Jen and son-in-law Dan took some time to pause at Grove House to remember father and husband Richard. Fran, a volunteer at Rennie Grove’s shop in Southdown, Harpenden, spoke openly about her husband’s recent passing: “He was cared for by Rennie Grove’s nurses at home, which was his choice, and it was so humbling that he was able to have that option. They were just amazing, it was tough but we can’t imagine how much harder it would’ve been without those nurses.” Daughter Nikki spoke about how important the night was for the family, saying: “It would be dad’s 70th birthday this time next week, so we wanted to take this opportunity to honour him, and it’s been a nice way to do it. Tonight has been so well organised.”
Jen said: “We were aware of Rennie Grove through mum’s voluntary work, but being on the receiving end of their services has been a surreal experience, it’s opened our eyes to the fantastic job they do.”
Also taking time to reflect were team of three friends from Tring; Sarah Barnes, Rachel Chaplin and Sue Grainger, who were participating in memory of shared friends and family. “We’ve been using tonight as a chance to do something to remember people that we love that we’ve all lost, but it’s also the perfect chance for us to catch up and chat as we walk!” said Sarah. “Tonight is for a brilliant cause; everyone knows someone who has needed care at home, and it’s the anniversary of Sue’s mother passing so it makes it that bit more important to us.” Sarah continued: “We also love that there’s hot chocolate here, we’ve been thinking about it the whole way round!”
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 we’ll definitely reach our fundraising target. If everyone who took part raises £50 in sponsorship, then each person will fund two hours of specialist care in a patient’s home or two health assessments in our Day Hospice and that would be an incredible achievement.”
Kate added that huge thanks were due to the charity’s volunteer marshals who gave up their Saturday night to make sure walkers could find their way safely through the streets. She said: “We’d also like to thank our corporate sponsors Global Infrastructure for sponsoring the t-shirts and Rachel Jeffrey Contemporary Jewellery for sponsoring the flyers and helping make the event so successful.”