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Flashing bunny ears light up town as walkers raise thousands for hospice
Thousands of women lit up the town as they stepped up for a good cause and walked through the darkened streets of Bury St Edmunds.
As dusk fell, Angel Hill was lit up by a sea of flashing bunny ears, on Saturday, 14 September, as more than 2,000 women signed up to be part of St Nicholas Hospice Care’s 11th Girls Night Out event.
Jenny Smith, the hospice’s events manager, said: “Thank you to everyone who has taken part in Girls Night Out and made it such a huge success. It is always emotional to see the walkers set off from Angel Hill together and to see such wonderful community spirit across the town.
“Every step that the women take and every pound they raise makes a difference. The money raised at this year’s event is incredibly important because it helps us to continue caring for people and families living with dying, death and grief across West Suffolk and Thetford.”
By tackling either the event’s 11.2 or six-mile route, it is expected that those taking part will have raised in excess of £200,000 for the charity, which supports those living with dying, death and grief.
Brett Bayliss, Investment Director at JM Finn, the walk’s main sponsor, said: “We are so pleased that we have been able to lend our support to Girls Night Out for the third year running.
“We are proud to be involved in the event and I am so pleased that it is expected to have raised in excess of £200,000, which will make such a difference, not just to the hospice, but also the community that relies on it.
“Well done to everyone who was part of the occasion.”
More than 350 volunteers and marshals supported the walk, while emergency services and personnel from RAF Honington were also on hand.
Jenny added: “We simply could not run Girls Night Out without phenomenal support from across the community.
“Not just all our amazing volunteers and marshals, but also the wonderful residents of Bury who clap and cheer as the walkers make their way around the routes, or the motorists who show their support as they drive past.
“I would also like to thank all of our main sponsors JM Finn and the other businesses who have sponsored this year’s occasion Chassis Cab, Sanofi, Greene King and Marham Park.”
Among those enjoying the build up to the event on Angel Hill were Jo Cramer, Katherine Brame and Caroline Higgins.
“We are doing it for the love. We are doing it for all of those people who can’t,” said Jo.
The evening was filled with laughter and camaraderie, alongside quieter moments when walkers remembered loved ones at the memory walls on Angel Hill and at the hospice.
The event also featured a poignant Memory Minute, which saw walkers pause to take part in a joint act of remembrance before the walk began.
Friends Mandy Amps and Sarah Farrow, pulled on their trainers and bunny ears once again after Mandy joined Sarah for the first time last year.
Mandy said: “We did the six mile route last year and really enjoyed it so wanted to do it again. The hospice is such a great charity and one which helps so many people. We will also be doing it in memory of a friend this year.”
Sharon Heaps, Littleport and Swaffham Prior Slimming World consultant, who took part in the event for the fourth time alongside 42 of her members, said: “It’s just such a good event. The passion everyone puts into it. I just enjoy it that’s why I keep coming back. I’ve done it four times now.”
Tina McDonald, from Sudbury, said: I’ve done this ever every year and I love it. I just can’t explain how brilliant the atmosphere is to people. Everyone is here for the same reason. To raise funds and support those who really need it.”
Laura Smith, from Great Barton, said: “This is the first time I have taken part and I am just blown away. My Nan died in a hospice in Cornwall and I just felt I really needed to do something. I saw the walk advertised and that was it.”
Marija Njegomir travelled from Swaffham to tackle the 11.2-mile route. Originally planning to do it with a friend, after they were forced to pull out Marija decided that wouldn’t stop her.
She said: “Originally we were going to be the Norfolk Broads team, but now I am just the Norfolk Broad. I have wanted to do this event for a number of years and I am so pleased to be doing it now.
“Many years ago the parents of some friends of mine were supported by the hospice that was in the early 2000s. The hospice is such an important charity that really touches so many people.”
As they crossed the finishing line, walkers were presented with medals before collecting a celebratory cupcake.
Georgie Danks, from Bury, who walked the 11.2-mile route, said: “Everyone has their own reasons for doing this event, but we are all doing it together to raise as much as we can for an incredible cause. Crossing that finishing line and getting that medal around my neck was the best feeling.”
The total raised from the event will take weeks to calculate as participants return their sponsorship money.
The hospice’s 12th Girls Night Out walk will return on Saturday, 12 September 2020.