Record number enjoy
A record number of walkers helped raise a mass of cash for the Pilgrims Hospices by taking part in the annual Pyjama Walk.
A total of 1,120 walkers gathered at the start line at Ashford Designer Outlet in Kimberley Way beating the previous record number of participants – 1,000 – who joined last year’s walk.
The army of walkers came wearing a variety of multicoloured or stripey onesies and pyjamas, flashing night caps and fluffy slippers.
Led by the hospices’ friendly bear mascot, Raffles, walkers came from across Kent and as far as Guildford to show their support for the charity by taking on the 10k sponsored walk and following the Hospices’ invitation to have ‘Funsie in their onesies’.
The walkers set off at 10.30pm and early indications are that the event will beat last year’s total raised of £50,000. Among them was green crocodile onesie-wearing Pilgrims regional fundraising manager Nigel Donkin who, with his team of staff and volunteers, masterminded the event.
He said: “We promised our walkers they would have funsie in their onesies and on the night they did us proud. We are so grateful to everyone who came and made it such a fun family atmosphere, as well as to everyone who sponsored the event, volunteered on the team and to Ashford Designer Outlet for letting us take over their space.
“Around 75% of our funding comes from the community and it is great that they came out in force for the walk.”
The event warm-up included a performance by community choir Ashford Sings before the Rosemary Conley Fitness team led stretches and dancing to get everyone warmed up.
There were some emotional moments with many of the walkers participating because of a personal connection to Pilgrims Hospices and hundreds paying tribute to loved ones on the Memory Wall.
Among those taking part was Caron Branson, a day hospice patient at Ashford Pilgrims Hospice, whose dream of taking part in the event had seemed unlikely because her daughters Emma, 14, and Hayley, 11, would have been unable to push her around the course in a wheelchair.
That was until firefighters from Ashford fire station came to her rescue, with a team taking it in turns to push her round.
Getting out of her wheelchair to walk the last steps across the finish line on her own, Caron said: “I’ve never done anything like this before and I definitely want to do it next year. It was great having the firemen’s help and it was a great night.”
Dan Halligan, crew manager of White Watch said: “We were really happy to help Caron out as well as support Pilgrims Hospices. It gave the lads some good exercise!”
David Maddison, Ashford Designer Outlet manager said: “The Pyjama Walk was a resounding success once again. We have always been proud to be involved with such a worthwhile cause, and once again we are delighted with the turnout and the awareness and money raised.”
Susan Cobb and Pauline Flisher; Face of Kent 2013 Leigh Sinden and her sister Francesca; their fabulous watermelon outfits won Stevie Ford and Jenny Barrett the best dressed prize of a £100 gift card from Ashford Designer Outlet; right, Flora the Singleton Giant with her friends - Kim Fisher, Roxy Fisher, Kayleigh Dix with Alan Fisher and Keith and Tyler Montgomery