THOUSANDS of people have paid tribute to loved ones who have been supported by a caring hospice.
The annual Moonlit Memories walk around Portsmouth saw people flock to the city to walk in aid of Rowans Hospice, a charity that provides end-of-life care to people across the region.
Setting off at 10pm on Saturday night, more than 1,300 people walked from Castle Field in Southsea – taking part in a six or 10-mile walk around the city.
Many of those taking part in the event had a friend or family member who was looked after by the hospice.
Among them were Lesley Searle, 52, from Havant, and her brother Mark Searle, from Eastney.
Lesley said: ‘Our dad was at Rowans Hospice when it first opened 23 years ago.
‘It’s an amazing place and I can’t say enough good things about them – they do such a great job looking after so many people.
‘They make what you’re going through bearable and let you have a laugh together at the hospice too.’
Mark said: ‘Almost everyone here has been helped in some way or another by the hospice – some more than once as well.
‘It’s nice to know that Rowans is so well supported and it bodes well for the future.
‘The chance to give something back to a charity that has done so much means everything to us.’
Also on the walk was 20-year-old Chaniece Alderton, from Cosham, and her mum Amanda.
The two were walking in memory of Chaniece’s great grandmother, as well as a close friend of Amanda.
Chaniece said: ‘This isn’t the first time we’ve done this – we always like to do something for the hospice.
‘It’s all to do with family and the way Rowans looks after people.’
Amanda said: ‘It’s really nice to see everyone pull together for the hospice like this.
‘Our family has used the hospice before and you never know when you’ll suddenly need their help.
‘Working in the NHS I know all too well how stretched people working in health care are – but everyone at Rowans does an incredible job.’
For work friends Steve Holland and Simon Clarke, the walk held a particularly special significance.
Steve, 52 from Hayling Island, said: ‘I left the army after 24 years and in the last 15 months, nine people I know have ended up at the hospice, so it is very close to my heart.
‘It’s the third time we’ve done this together now and it’s always a special event.’
Simon, 27, from Havant, said: ‘It’s good to have so many people involved – it means we can raise so much money to support the work they do.
‘Together we’ve raised £300 and combining everyone’s efforts we can make a huge difference to the charity.
‘Everyone at The Rowans Hospice does a great job so it’s nice to give something back.’