Tomorrow evening about 1,000 people will gather on Southsea seafront for a 6 or 10-mile walk to raise money for the Rowans Hospice. Nicola Ellis talks to some of the people taking part in the 12th Moonlit Memories Walk to find out about their motivation
This year Sammantha Aston is walking in memory of her twin sister Angela, as part of a year packed full of fundraising events to mark their 50th birthday.
Sammantha, from Cowplain, has organised a group of 50 friends and family to enter the event as part of ‘Team Twinnie’ and to walk together to celebrate her sister’s life, whilst raising money for the Rowans, a local charity close to their hearts.
She says: ‘It’s important for me to celebrate Angela’s 50th birthday. She died of a really rare cancer, sickle cell sarcoma, aged just 45.
‘In addition to taking on 50 fundraising challenges for
sarcoma, I wanted to undertake the Moonlit Memories Walk because the Rowans was really important to her.
‘Angela always supported the Rowans even before our mum passed away in there, because it was our local hospice.
‘Not only had our nan and uncle been supported by the Rowans, we knew of lots of people within the community who had received their amazing help.
‘When mum died, Angela was utterly devastated but thankfully the Rowans gave her the support and counselling that she needed. They were wonderful. So it was really important to her we supported the Rowans and would do the Moonlit Memories Walk together to remember our mum.
‘My plan is that ‘Team Twinnie’ will all start and end together. The walk will give us the opportunity to celebrate and share our memories of Angela.
‘I know it will be emotional and I also know it isn’t easy, as you are walking when your body expects you to be sleeping. But the atmosphere and the event is really special.
‘I particularly love the opportunity you have to
stop and light a candle at Portsmouth Cathedral. Plus I like walking around HMS Victory because it is so nicely lit up, and I know that I am on the way back!
‘It is really important that I do this event, marking our 50th birthday by supporting a charity that meant a lot to my sister.
‘As Angela would point out, you might never need the Rowans but it’s important that everyone living in the area does what they can to make sure it is always there for our community.’
Stan Spooner, aged 78, from Denmead, is undertaking the walk as a personal challenge.
He explains: ‘I have been actively involved in supporting the local community for 41 years. Through taking part in the Moonlit Memories Walk, I am still able to play my part in supporting a key local charity whilst taking on this physical challenge.
‘I hope by taking part and completing the 10-mile walk it will encourage more people, especially men, to take part.
‘I firmly believe that it is important we all contribute in supporting our community, even those services we haven’t directly needed or used.’
Debbie Hulbert, with her team from Charter Cutting Company, in Emsworth, have taken on the Rowans Silver Jubilee Appeal’s £2.5k Corporate Challenge.
A group of them are walking the 10-mile route as part of their calendar of fundraising events.
Debbie explains that the company has been raising money for the hospice for many years, but she never expected she would need its support.
‘My mum passed away at the Rowans in 2014 but prior to then, as a salon, we would always fundraise for the hospice just because it’s local.
‘Nothing beats fundraising for a charity that is on your doorstep because literally you can’t imagine how many clients we have had, probably even just in the past 12 months whose daughters, sons, themselves or their partners have needed to use or be supported by the Rowans.
‘Our fundraising for the Rowans started by taking part in the Moonlit Memories Walk.
‘It’s great to know with every step we’ll be helping to raise the funds needed to ensure the amazing care my family received is there for our clients and our community now and in the future.’
Walkers on both the 6 and 10-mile routes will be led off Castle Field in Southsea by the ‘Heart of the Hospice’ team, made up of more than 20 Rowans nurses and doctors, who are undertaking the sponsored walk as a way of saying thank you to the community.
Nurse Jill Saunders, who co-ordinated the team of Rowans staff, says: ‘Many of us have taken part in the Moonlit Memories Walk over the years, for different reasons.
‘Personally I have walked it in memory of a dear friend and as a personal challenge.
‘This year the nurses wanted to walk together as a team as our way of saying thank you for all the support that the community give to us.
‘We appreciate how much work goes into funding the work we do, so want to play our part by raising money for the hospice by taking on this challenge.’
Whatever your reason, we need your support now more than ever. We have the massive challenge of raising £7.5m to build a hospice equipped to cope with the future care needs and demands of our community. We cannot do this without the support of every single person in our community. Please help us today by either donating £10 or by pledging to do one thing online at www.silverjubilee.rowanshospice.co.uk. Thank you.