TWO teenagers are encouraging children across Portsmouth to take part in a sponsored walk for charity.
The Children’s Starlit Walk, in aid of the Rowans Hospice, has raised thousands of pounds over the past seven years to support people living in Portsmouth and south east Hampshire affected by life-limiting illnesses.
Georgia Hodges and Amelia Fitzgerald both suffered a family bereavement at a young age but were helped by the Rowan’s Meerkat Service, which provides support to young people.
Georgia said: ‘For me, Gran was the woman who was an intrinsic part of my life. She acted as a second mother to me and a best friend.
‘You never get over losing someone that special to you, but the one-to-one and group support provided by the Meerkat Service at The Rowans Hospice helped me learn how to cope with it.’
The 19-year-old has now joined the charity as a Meerkat Mentor to use her experience to help others.
Georgia added: ‘Last year I spent the evening in St Ann’s Church with Amelia, another Meerkat Mentor, and helped to welcome the children as they came into the church to display their memory stars.
‘When I was 13, I completed the Starlit Walk. I loved the atmosphere and seeing so many children walking in memory of someone they loved and using the opportunity to raise money for Rowans Hospice.’
The route goes past the HMS Victory in to the Naval Base and back to Boathouse No7.
Amelia has taken part in the walk since she was 12 after her dad died.
He was due to be transferred from Queen Alexandra Hospital for end-of-life care at The Rowans but died before he could be moved.
The 17-year-old said: ‘Sadly, he was unable to make it there but that didn’t stop me and my younger sister from receiving the help we needed from Rowans Meerkat Service.’
Amelia is now a regular volunteer at the hospice and last year was based at St Ann’s Church for the Starlit Walk where children can light a candle and make a memory star for someone special.
She said: ‘The best part of the evening was seeing all the children come into the church and helping them to hang up the stars they’d decorated in honour of their loved ones.
‘The display of stars was honestly such a touching sight.’
She added: ‘This is a really special event and definitely one for lots of children to get involved with.’
Events fundraiser Teresa Jeffery said: ‘This event is really magical.
‘Many of the children take pride that they are raising money to help look after poorly people and many of them are remembering someone who has died, but they all join together to have a fantastic time.’
Any child aged 16 and below must be accompanied by an adult, who can accompany up to four children.
The walk is on October 25 and starts at 6.30pm and it costs £5 to register a child.
For more information and to register online, visit rowanshospice.co.uk/starlit.