Record num­ber en­joy

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Pilgrims Hospices Pyjama Walk -

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

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