THREE women are to take part in a midnight stroll around Portsmouth in memory of a friend who lost her battle with cancer.
Ann Cooper, Marion Walshe, and Vanessa Doyle, all 51, will remember pal Julie Wright by doing the Moonlit Memories Walk while raising money for the Rowans Hospice.
Julie died in October last year from breast cancer.
She was first diagnosed with the condition in 2003, along with friend, Ann.
Ann recalls: ‘We both had to come to terms with losing our hair and the other challenges that harsh cancer treatments present. We stuck together and lived to see another day.
‘As a celebration of surviving our cancer, we all agreed to participate in the first-ever Moonlit Memories Walk.
‘Twelve miles was a bit of struggle for four, almost middle aged, ladies of varying levels of fitness but we rose to the challenge and enjoyed celebrating our collective achievement. It was definitely a celebration of life.’
But soon after all four had reached their 50th birthdays, Julie’s cancer became evident again.
This time she was unable to fight it and died in October last year.
‘We are all devastated by our loss,’ added Ann, head of communications at the Rowans Hospice in Purbrook.
‘When we go out to dinner, we ask for the spare chair to be removed from the table, we don’t like to think of her as missing although the reality is that we miss her dreadfully. We always toast her memory and still shed a tear.’
The 12-mile walk, which was introduced in 2008, starts and finishes on Southsea Common.
This year’s walk is even more poignant now for the trio.
Ann said: ‘We expect this to be an extremely emotional journey and one that will tug at each of our hearts because of her absence.’
She has now called on readers to sign up for the walk and raise cash for the hospice.
‘No-one is exempt from illness and you never know when you or someone you love may be affected,’ she said.
‘That’s when you will really understand the importance of the Rowans Hospice. If you haven’t considered taking part in the Moonlit Memories Walk, I ask you to think about it now.
‘Whether you decide to walk in memory of someone or just because you want to.’
This year’s walk takes place from 11pm on June 16. To mark the anniversary of the walk, the minimum age limit has been dropped to 13 years old, so more families can take part.
A shorter ﬁve-mile course has also been introduced.
But time is running out – people cannot register on the night and need to enter by today. To download a registration form visit rowanshospice.co.uk or call (023) 9223 8533.