OVER five hundred children have taken part in this year’s Starlit Walk in memory of lost loved ones and to raise money for Rowans Hospice.
Many of the children taking part had relatives who had been cared for by Rowans, including Charles Coe, eight, whose grandfather, Richard Picton, had received palliative home care after being diagnosed with a brain tumour.
Charles said: ‘I’m walking for my granddad as Rowans looked after him really well. My best memory of my granddad is playing with my train set.’
Mum, Jackie Coe, 39, added: ‘Rowans provided us with such fantastic support that it allowed my dad to be at home which is where he wanted to die.’
Now in its tenth year, the 1.5 and 3 mile walks took place in the city’s Historic Dockyard. As well as raising an estimated £35,000 for the hospice the children also got the chance to commemorate loved ones by lighting candles in St Ann’s Church and placing a decorated star on a memory wall.
Bryony Tyler, 11, said: ‘I placed a star in memory of my great granddad who died of cancer. It was nice to remember him tonight and we have raised £150 for a good cause.’
Dad, Dave Tyler, 35, added: ‘Rowans do a fantastic job. My grandfather really picked up when he went there and I honestly think it gave us an extra couple of months with him.’
With only 14 per cent of the hospice’s funding coming from central government, Rowans is dependent on fundraisers to maintain the services it provides.
Rowans fundraising events manager, Craig Wilcox, said: ‘Events like tonight are absolutely vital for us. Unlike some of our other events this is specifically aimed at children. It gives them a chance to remember loved ones as well as take part in the fundraising. Quite often the children’s grandparents may have been cared for and passed away at the hospice.’
Colleague, Cathy Pittick, added: ‘As this Starlit Walk falls on our 25th anniversary we thought it would be appropriate for this year’s theme is to be Silver and Sparkly.’
Families taking part in the event wore a colourful array of fluorescent lights and received a Starlit medal.