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Hundreds turn out for St Michael's Hospice's midnight walk
Buy this photo » Midnight walkers cheering
FLASHING bunny ears lit up the streets of Basingstoke for this year's St Michael's Hospice 2012.
Hundreds of men, women and children took part in the annual event, which is expected to raise £65,000 for the hospice, in Aldermaston Road .
Around 500 people turned up at Porchester Square, in Festival Place , for the start of this year's event shortly before 11pm last Saturday.
Most wore T-shirts bearing the hospice's name, but some wore less conventional outfits, which included ladies wearing pyjamas and one man wearing little more than shorts, a pink bra and body glitter.
After a quick warm-up, which shook the floor of the shopping centre, David Monkton, chief executive of the hospice, took to the stage to thank everybody for taking part.
He said that fundraising events like the midnight walk help the hospice meet its £3.5million annual running costs for which less than a fifth is government-funded.
Basingstoke and Deane mayor Councillor Martin Biermann then led a minute's silence for those taking part to remember friends and family who have died.
He told the walkers: “Thank you for what you are doing. This is terribly important because it is through events like these that the hospice survives.”
The walkers were then called to the start and were led out by 65-year-old Colin Godfrey, from Kempshott, who made a famous walk of his own this year when he carried the Olympic torch through Eastbourne.
As well as the inclusion of men and children, the fourth annual walk saw a change of route, with the walkers taking on an 8.5-mile route that took in Basingstoke Leisure Park, Buckskin, Kempshott, South Ham and Viables.
Robin Pullinger was one of many with a personal reason for taking on the Midnight Walk. The 60-year-old, of Hill Road, Oakley, lost his wife Jen to throat cancer earlier this summer, and the couple were supported by the Hospice at Home service in the last months of her life. He walked the route with his 30-year-old daughter Emma Clayton.
He said: “I looked after my wife since Christmas last year when we first found out she had cancer, and it was at the end when I could no longer look after her on my own that the hospice team took over and came in. They sent staff out so I could get some rest. They were fantastic.”
First to return to the shopping centre was Sue Harrison, 53, from Kempshott, who admitted she walked and ran the route to finish in a time of one hour and 44 minutes.
“It was great. I went quickly because I did the 11-mile route last year and I wanted a bit more of a challenge.”
The walkers received a medal and refreshments, including a burger or bacon sandwich served by volunteers from the Rotary Club of Basingstoke Deane.
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