THIS has been phenomenal, we cannot thank our supporters enough.
That is the message from the chief executive of The Rowans Hospice Ruth White as more than 1,400 people took part in the Moonlit Memories Walk.
Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the walk has raised more than £1.8m and when the donations for this year’s 10-mile challenge are totalled up, the hospice is hoping to reach £2m.
On Saturday night, hundreds of families pulled on their walking shoes to complete the challenge, with many walking in memory of a loved one.
They started at Castle Field, in Southsea and walked towards Old Portsmouth and the Historic Dockyard as the sun set and the stars started to appear.
While in Old Portsmouth, the walkers went inside the cathedral to light a candle and remember their relatives.
Sisters Amy and Lauren Major, from Gosport, were walking in memory of their grandad Christopher Richards.
Amy, 22, said: ‘This is the first time we have taken part but we wanted to do it for our grandad who went into The Rowans in 2015 with a brain tumour.’
Lauren, 24, added: ‘It is great to be a part of this and the atmosphere was incredible.’
Couple Kelly Huntington and Dan Byrne, from Portsmouth, were doing the 10-mile walk for the second time.
It is always such a poignant night and the support we get is phenomenal.Ruth White
They signed up in memory of Dan’s dad Sean.
He said: ‘I know just how important the work of The Rowans is.
‘My dad was there two years ago and they were incredible.
‘To be walking with so many people for their 10th anniversary is amazing.’
Lizzie Freeston, from Waterlooville, and Kelly Lee, from Copnor, were walking in memory of their close friend Jolene Almond.
She was being cared for at the hospice, in Purbrook, before she died of cancer in May.
Lizzie, 41, said: ‘We went to see Jolene at The Rowans a couple of days before she passed away.
‘We were planning to do the walk anyway but when we saw the amazing work they do, we were really keen to definitely do it.’
Former Hollyoaks actor Marcus Patrick, who performed in The Kings Theatre pantomime last year and grew up in Gosport, was in Southsea to help launch the walk.
Speaking to The News, he said: ‘I have recently become a patron for the hospice and it was an honour to start the walk.
‘It is such a fantastic organisation and seeing a sea of blue as the walkers got ready to go was amazing.’
Rowans chief executive Mrs White thanked everyone for their support of the walk.
She said: ‘It is incredible to think we have been doing Moonlit Memories for 10 years.
‘It is always such a poignant night and the support we get is phenomenal.
‘If we can reach £2m by raising £200,000 then that would be wonderful.’