To a chorus of honking horns and cheering onlookers, an army of volunteers took part in The Rowans Hospice charity bed push at the weekend.
More than 60 people pushed a custom-designed bed in a relay all the way from the hospice in Purbrook Heath to Canoe Lake in Southsea.
Rowans’ staff, nurses and volunteers joined up with naval personnel, firefighters and police officers to cover the 10-mile route.
A steady stream of passing motorists and shoppers were stopping throughout the day to give change to nurses and volunteers in the road.
The bed push is part of a bid to reach the hospice’s £1m target for the Dorothy’s Dream appeal.
The appeal will enable the staff there to launch their hospice at home care service.
Chief executive of the hospice Ruth White said the day had been a huge success and surpassed all her expectations.
‘It’s been absolutely brilliant,’ she said. ‘This day has really been about raising the profile of the Big Push to give us enough momentum to get over the finish line and raise £1m.
‘What this has shown us is the sheer amount of community support we have for this service, from the firefighters and sailors who kindly gave up their time, to members of the public on the way.
‘People are really behind what we are trying to achieve with Dorothy’s Dream, it has hit a nerve with a lot of people and I am confident we are going to hit our target.’
Organisers say they collected £1,500 along the way but hope to double the amount with money raised from other fundraising events on the day.
Matron Erika Lipscombe, 42, said: ‘It has been absolutely marvellous.
‘People have been very kind and very friendly.
‘We had people stopping their cars as they went past to give us their donations as we went along.
‘I thought the bed push was a fantastic idea when I first heard it and it has taken a lot of planning.
‘Being able to walk through the area has been really enjoyable and has really given us a lot of attention.
‘People have been coming up to us who had family members who had contact with us which was a little sad but they recognise the work that we do.’
Dressed as Dorothy and riding on the bed during the day were Serena White, 10-year-old daughter of chief executive Ruth Wight, and Tally Verrier, five, whose aunt works at the hospice.
Serena said it had been a great day.
‘It was really fun,’ she said. ‘There was lots of smiling and the firemen kept making me laugh, and lots of people stopped to give money.’
Ward sister Caroline Efthimiou came up with the idea of a bed push and said it had gone far beyond what she had initially expected.
‘When we were planning it, it was more of a small low-key event, but it’s just grown and grown,’ she said.
‘I really can’t believe how well it has turned out, people have really got behind it and made it a massive success.’
The bed push was officially started by the mayor of Havant, Cllr Ken Smith, who followed from the hospice as far as the boundary between Havant and Winchester council areas.
Amanda Mahoney, events manager for The Rowans Hospice, helped organise the bed push and said: ‘It was fantastic, the support we received was absolutely amazing. From cars beeping their horns to people giving us money and joining the procession it was just heartwarming.
‘There were even some people on scooters who just started riding with us, and we picked up additional forces at Commercial Road.
‘I’m so grateful to everybody who came out to donate or lend us a hand.’
‘It has been a really good day’
DRIVING a fire engine which accompanied the walkers and bed pushers was Cosham firefighter Glen Willie.
‘I did my fair share of pushing, I don’t want anyone thinking I was just hiding in the fire engine,’ he said.
‘The sailors took the pushing a bit more seriously then us, we had a bit of a party atmosphere going on most of the time.
‘Any time The Rowans need anything they know they can give us a call, we’ve worked with them before and I’m sure we will again. They are a brilliant charity and deserve all the support they can get.’
Fire crews from Cosham, Emsworth and Southsea took part in the bed push.
Firefighter Tom Davies, from Emsworth, said: ‘It has been a really good day.
‘It’s important that we do things like this for charity and get involved in the community.
‘Working with people in our local area is a big part of what we do and so we are really pleased to be able to help out when we can.’
‘They do so much good work’
SAILORS from HMS Sultan helped to paint the bed ready for its journey through the area.
They also adapted the bed with new wheels and foam-covered bars so it could be easily pushed by walkers on the day.
Lieutenant Jamie Vaughn is the commanding officer of one group of sailors who took part in the bed push.
He said: ‘They do so much good work up there in Purbrook, it wasn’t difficult when we were looking around for charities to support.
‘On the day I felt we were the more disciplined pushing team; the firemen might have had the speed, but we had the stamina.
‘It was great to see just how much public support there was, especially on Commercial Road and at the Historic Dockyard.’
Lt Vaughn’s wife and two daughters also joined the procession and he said his men were only too happy to help the hospice in any way they could.