Press release from Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice:
Hundreds of women stepped out for Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice on Saturday (July 2) in the charity’s annual Starlight Stroll, which is on course to raise a fantastic £40,000.
This year’s event was the most colourful yet, with many of the 409 women who had signed up donning fancy dress costumes, multicoloured tutus and an array of flashing headwear and necklaces.
Organisers said the stream of Starlight Stroll trademark yellow t-shirts and flickering lights along Harborne high street at 11pm was a sight to behold. A number of passers-by even donated money to the strollers.
All participants, many of whom were walking in memory of a former loved one cared for by the Hospice, successfully completed the eight-mile challenge, which began at 10pm at the University of Birmingham in Edgbaston and took in Harborne and Selly Park.
The money they have raised will be used to fund care for people with life-limiting illnesses from Birmingham and Sandwell as well as support for their families.
Speaking after the last walker returned at 1.58am, Hospice Head of Fundraising and Marketing Caroline Taylor declared the event a success. She said: “Despite the tough economic conditions Starlight Stroll continues to be very well supported and is making a big difference to the Hospice. We’ve managed to raise a serious amount of money which is great news and vital to the patients and families who rely on our care. The ladies who took part are a real credit to this city.
“It’s also wonderful to see the event evolving; participants, many of whom are returning each year to support their hospice, are bringing a great deal of colour to proceedings with imaginative fancy dress costumes. They really added to the atmosphere at what was a very special night.”
Caroline thanked the volunteers, who turned out to man the registration desks and marshal along the route. “Without their support the event would not have been possible, they did a great job yet again,” she added.
Another Starlight Stroll faithful was Gill Gregory, Birmingham’s Deputy Lady Mayoress, who launched the event for the second year running. Mrs Gregory and her husband Len, the Deputy Lord Mayor, joined the sea of yellow t-shirts for a good portion of the route.
She said: “I was really delighted to launch Starlight Stroll again. There was a fantastic turnout and we were blessed with the weather.
“I’ve seen the work done at the Hospice and how wonderful the facilities are there, so people can rest assured the money raised is being put to good use, caring for patients and supporting their families.”
Among those sporting fancy dress was Sharon Calvert, who was leading a team of seven pirates from William H. Painter Funeral Directors.
Sharon said: “We like to support local charities and when we heard of Starlight Stroll we thought it would be a fun thing to do. We know about the good work being done at the Hospice so we’re very happy to support it. We’re expecting to raise over £500 tonight. We’ve done quite a bit of fundraising individually and the company has given us support, so we’re really happy with that.”
The strollers were also cheered on by patient Bob Clements as they walked past the Selly Park-based Hospice, which this year was specially illuminated with candles. Bob came out to see his mum Jacqui and sister Rachel who were taking part. The Clements family have raised something in the region of £7,000 for Birmingham St Mary’s over the past six months.
There were also a number of pets accompanying the strollers this year, including a labrador guide dog puppy led by Karen Henry, who was walking in memory of her mother who died five years ago at the Hospice.
Each year Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice cares for around 1,000 people with life-limiting conditions including cancer, multiple sclerosis, motor neurone disease and Aids.
The majority of patients are looked after in their homes, surrounded by family and friends. Those with more complex medical needs are able to stay in the Hospice’s Inpatient Unit in Selly Park for respite or symptom control.
Birmingham St Mary’s Day Hospice on the same site offers patients with less advanced conditions the chance of a weekly visit to receive medical support, complementary and creative therapies and friendship, whilst giving their home carers some time off.
Fundraisers need to bring in nearly £2.5 million each year towards the £6.4 million annual running costs of the Hospice. The remainder of funding comes from the charity’s nine shops and through the NHS.