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Amazing fundraisers made sure every step counted for hospice
Fundraisers wearing flashing bunny ears put their best feet forward when they stepped out in their droves to raise vital funds for St Nic’s.
More than 800 walkers pulled on their comfiest trainers and paced the pavements of Bury St Edmunds on Saturday, 11 September, as part of St Nicholas Hospice Care’s 2021 Jaynic’s Girls Night Out.
The pyjama-clad walkers gathered in their hundreds on Angel Hill, Bury St Edmunds, as they prepared to trek either six or 11.2 miles around the town. Funds are still being counted, but every penny raised will make a massive difference to the charity which supports those across West Suffolk and Thetford facing dying, caring and grief.
Charlie De-Moore, the hospice’s events fundraiser and event organiser, said: “Thank you to everyone who has taken part in 2021’s Jaynic Girls Night Out and made it such a huge success. The money raised is incredibly important because it helps us continue our work to support families at such difficult times.
“It is always emotional to see the walkers set off from Angel Hill together and to see such wonderful community spirit across the town, but this year it felt truly wonderful to see how much support for St Nicholas Hospice Care there is across the community.
“We never take the support we receive for granted, and everyone has been amazing. We are so grateful to every person who has contributed to the event, our walkers, marshals and volunteers, our main sponsor Jaynic and our event sponsors.
“Thank you also to everyone who supported the walkers by sponsoring them or coming out of their homes to cheer them on. You all make Girls Night Out the fantastic occasion it is.”
Hannah Smith, who lives in Bury St Edmunds, was walking with her best friend Natalie Holmes; she said: “This is my first Girls Night Out and what a great occasion to be part of. My family were supported by the hospice years ago after the death of my grandpa. The support we felt from the nurses and everyone on the ward has always stayed with me. This walk is a thank you to them and in memory of my grandpa.”
The event’s build-up for newlyweds, Josh and Becky Cramer made a perfect backdrop for some of their wedding photos as bunny-eared wearing walkers posed alongside them for some of their snaps. The pair, who live in Bury, married earlier at the Athenaeum (second date due to the pandemic).
More than 200 volunteers and marshals supported the event, which for the second year running is sponsored by Suffolk-focused developer Jaynic, while emergency services and RAF 2623 Squadron were also on hand to ensure everything ran smoothly.
Nic Rumsey, Jaynic’s managing director, said, “We are thrilled that the walk was such a success and so pleased our sponsorship can contribute to such an important local charity and the work it does to make a difference to families across West Suffolk and Thetford at the most difficult times of their lives.
“Thank you to everyone who took part in the event and raised their own funds and all of those who made it happen.”
The evening was filled with laughter and camaraderie, alongside more tender moments in which walkers remembered loved ones at the memory walls on Angel Hill and outside the hospice and during the event’s memory minute, which was observed before walkers set off on their challenge.
During the build-up to the start, the hospice also invited some of those who had supported the charity throughout the pandemic onto the stage.
Amid much cheering, the hospice’s COVID heroes were recognised for everything they had done. They included members of the Thetford Open Gardens committee who have been relentless in their fundraising, Jo Birch, who set up a Facebook group to support the making of scrubs. Martin McConnell, who has recently completed 2021km in memory of a friend. Martin initially set himself the challenge of completing the distance in a year, but by running between 60 and 70km a week, he finished at the end of August. Melanie Furness, who completed 30 half marathons in 30 days throughout June, also came on to the stage, as did Girls Night Out super fan Allison Humphreys who recently finished the virtual Lands End to John O Groats challenge.
Following an energetic warm-up from the Zumba Chickz, a flash mob made up of staff from across the hospice performed their own routine to Sister Sledge ‘We Are Family’.
Chris Barker, from Sudbury, said: “I’ve done the walk a few times now, and that feeling of excitement as 8pm gets closer never changes. I walk for all of those who have lost loved ones, and all of those who are supported by the hospice now, and those who will need them in the future.”
There was also a variety of musical entertainment for participants to enjoy along the routes. This included drummers and a pipe band.
With the finish line in sight, walkers were greeted by a welcome hot drink, cake and they also received a medal.
Lizzy Griffin, who lives in Haverhill, said: It’s been a wonderful night stepping over that finish line felt fantastic. I’ll probably have blisters on top of blisters tomorrow, but it’s worth it for the hospice.”