Women walkers take to streets in Romford charity trek

Romford town centre was transformed into a fantasy-world of fairies, cowgirls and angels at the weekend. as hundreds of fancy-dressed women united for the St Francis midnight walk.

More than 640 women completed the 10km event on a balmy Saturday night - raising around �80,000 for the Havering-atte-Bower based charity.

All the cash will help fund patient care for people with a life-limiting illness across the community.

Walkers enjoyed a mass warm-up in the form of a zumba class, followed by a routine from the Gymophobics, before Havering Mayor, Cllr Melvin Wallace set the walkers on their way from the Liberty Shopping Centre.

Cllr Wallace, who has chosen to support the hospice as his charity during his year in office, said: “This is an amazing evening, all these women doing a wonderful thing for a very special charity, which helps 600 people across the community every day. I just wish I could walk it!”

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Among the walkers was a group of patients who attend the day hospice, joined by their family and friends.

One member of the Day Care Dollies was mother-of-four Kelly Ann Seary, 32, from Harold Hill.

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Pupils from Kelly’s daughter’s school, Brookside, in Harold Hill, designed posters featuring pictures of dollies for the team to wear.

“It was a really emotional evening,” said Kelly. “Everyone is there for one reason, everyone’s been touched by the hospice, and it was such a united front. There was great support – cars were beeping their horns, people were standing on balconies and cheering you on, which was really motivating, and the atmosphere was great.

“I’d be lost without the hospice. The staff are angels, they treat you like individuals not just another patient. Being a mum of four young children, you have to stop yourself from saying things sometimes, but thanks to the hospice I don’t have to bottle anything up, everyone understands what you are going through.”

Sandy’s Stars took part in memory of Sandy White, a patient who had planned on joining the walk with the Day Care Dollies.

Sadly, Sandy died on May 13, so her daughter, Nicola, gathered her friends and vowed to complete the walk– raising more than �1,500.

“It was an emotional evening, but there was a great, party atmosphere, and I really enjoyed it. It’s important to raise money for a smaller, local charity, which does really worthwhile work.”

Julie Tointon-Mahandru completed the walk with 12 friends and family members, raising �2,500 between them. Team Dee were walking in memory of Julie’s husband Dee, who died at the hospice last year aged 45 and just three months after their daughter Sophia was born.

Julie said: “The hospice has been involved in my life a lot caring for my grandparents and husband. If it wasn’t for the help of the hospice, Dee wouldn’t have been able to meet Sophia. The hospice is not just a place to end your life, it’s about giving you quality of life. And Dee’s quality of life improved so much once he had been treated by the hospice.”

Hospice staff entered including nurses from the in-patient unit, and a team from Hospice at Home walked in memory of colleagues Diane Papidas and Carol Penfold who died last year.

Among the Hospice at Home Hunnies, who dressed as bumble bees and raised more than �1,400, was senior staff nurse, Amie Blumson.

She said: “Star Trek brought together loads of like-minded people, who have all been touched by the hospice in some way. It was a great atmosphere – once we finished we stayed and cheered everyone else on, supporting them all the way.”

Event organiser Elizabeth Palfreman, said: “I’d like to thank everyone who came, all the supporters, and all of the volunteers who worked busily behind the scenes ensuring everything ran smoothly on the night. I’m already excited about next year’s event.”

If you would like to learn more about other hospice fundraising events please visit www.sfh.org.uk, email fundraising@sfh.org.uk or call 01708 771427.

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