Community unites for Midnight Walk in support of local hospice care

Midnight Walk turned Plymouth bright pink as a thousand women and girls came together wearing tee-shirts of that hue to walk across the city, raising vital funds to help ensure local people with terminal illness get high-calibre care that helps them live well to the end of their lives.

On Friday 20 August, saw much-loved local charity St Luke’s Hospice Plymouth welcome faces both familiar and new to its hotly anticipated mass participation fundraising event, Midnight Walk, following the sponsored walk’s cancellation last year because of the pandemic. So popular was the event in aid of the compassionate care the hospice provides across Plymouth and surrounding areas that it was a complete sell-out.

Setting off from Plymouth Argyle’s Home Park Stadium, the ladies followed 5, 10 or 15-mile route taking in many Plymouth landmarks, including Smeaton’s Tower and the Barbican. And when the challenge got tough, moral support came in abundance from the spectators who cheered them on from their front gardens and the passing motorists who tooted their horns in solidarity.

The event, sponsored by GA Solicitors, saw many participants walking in memory of lost loved ones, having fun and making new memories as they celebrated the lives of people special to them who will never be forgotten.

Among those taking on the full 15 miles were Caroline Mercer from Salcombe, her daughters Cerys and Tegan and friends Debbie, Emma and Alice. The group was walking in memory of Lyndsey (Lynds) Fisher-Khoury, Caroline’s best friend and godmother to Cerys and Tegan, who was looked after by St Luke’s at Turnchapel before sadly, she died in May 2019.

Caroline said: “Lynds was such a special person – she loved life and was so kind and caring. She was always beautifully dressed and shone in any room yet was so down to earth. She was a lovely godmother, too, and we all miss her so much.

St Luke's Midnight Walk Caroline Mercer

“When Lynds needed St Luke’s care at Turnchapel, they looked after her wonderfully in a beautiful room looking onto the gardens. It helped her husband Mark, and all of us, to see that she was comfortable and at ease in such a peaceful place where nothing was ever too much trouble. Whenever we visited Lynds, we were always made to feel so welcome by the staff and I will never forget their kindness at such heart-breaking time.”

Also walking 15 miles were sisters Tracey Brannan from Crownhill and Suzanne Clough from Brixton, walking in memory of their much-loved grandfather Peter Clough. St Luke’s cared for Peter at home and later at its specialist unit at Turnchapel.

Tracey said: “Doing Midnight Walk this year feels extra special because it’s coming up to ten years since granddad died and it’s our way of paying tribute to him. What stood out to me about St Luke’s was the way their care helped him not just physically but mentally, too. They gave him – and us as a family – the ultimate support throughout. It’s really important to us to show our gratitude because there’s an endless need for what the charity provides.”

St Luke's Midnight Walk Tracey and Suzanne

Suzanne said: “I would have been marrying my fiancé Ashley today, but we postponed because of the pandemic. So, it was wonderful to be in an atmosphere of celebration at Midnight Walk, remembering our amazing granddad and doing our bit for such a vital service for our community.”

Head of Fundraising at St Luke’s, Penny Hannah, said: “What an electric atmosphere! A huge, heartfelt thank you to all the ladies who came out to support St Luke’s – you are all incredible and we loved seeing you!

“From the dedications on the backs of all the tee-shirts it was clear to see the positive impact St Luke’s has had on so many local families in need at a time of crisis.

“After the disappointment of having to cancel last year’s Midnight Walk due to COVID-19 safety measures, this year’s event felt even more special. For some of the ladies taking part, it was the first opportunity they have had to reunite with family and friends since losing a loved one during the past 18 months, which have been so incredibly tough for people going through bereavement.

“We are so grateful to everyone who took part. Sponsorship money raised helps keep our team on the road 365 days a year, giving their compassionate care to patients in the comfort of their own home and supporting their families – all of which helps make our community a kinder place for people living and dying with terminal illness and for those close to them, too.

“I also want to thank all the other big-hearted people who make an event of this magnitude possible. That includes our army of amazing volunteers, our sponsors GA Solicitors, Plymouth Argyle, Cheezifit for the fantastic warm-up routine, Devon and Cornwall 4×4 Response Team, Devon and Cornwall Cycle Marshalls, PL1 Events and all the businesses and other organisations who’ve donated products and services. We simply couldn’t have done it without them and we are so grateful.”