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Walkers wanted for midnight fundraiser

Women from across Wiltshire, Somerset and Bath are signing up to take part in this year’s Dorothy House Midnight Walk, raising vital funds for the Winsley-based hospice – but the numbers are down on this time last year.

Event organiser Phillippa Watson said, “This may be an effect of the recession; some of our fundraising events this year have attracted lower than usual participation – although I’m pleased to say that hasn’t really been reflected so far in the amount of money raised.

“The weather could be another factor – people may be unwilling to commit to outdoor activities when the long-term forecast is for more and more rain.

“Also, this is the first year we’ve asked people to raise a minimum amount of sponsorship. In the past, we’ve always encouraged people to raise as much as they can, but they’ve not had to pledge a minimum, unlike most big sporting challenges.

“Last year, however, a couple of hundred walkers raised no sponsorship at all, obviously feeling that paying a registration fee was all that was required. In fact, the £15 fee barely covers the organisational costs, and so we rely on people raising sponsorship to make the event a financial success.

“We’ve requested that people raise £50 minimum this year – which may sound daunting, but is actually well below the average amount raised. One of our regular midnight walkers, for example, raises several hundred pounds every year by taking her sponsorship form on holiday with her, chatting to the people she meets and persuading them to contribute. Even if people just give a pound or two, it very soon mounts up. Getting work colleagues or classmates to chip in with a couple of pounds works equally well – and we do offer hints and tips about raising sponsorship when walkers register.

“It is a fantastic event, and we always have lots of very positive feedback afterwards – it’s a great girls’ night out. Last year, the sight of 1,200 women – most of them wearing flashing bunny ears – walking through Bath in the middle of the night, was truly unforgettable.”

One of the walkers who joined the illuminated throng for the 2011 walk was Jenny O’Nions from Warminster, walking in memory of her husband, Dave, who was cared for by the hospice. Jenny said, “For me, the walk was not only a personal challenge, but one way I can say how very grateful I am to all at Dorothy House for their love, care and support to Dave and myself. It is also good to know that the money I raised will enable others to be cared for in such a special way.” First-timer Ainslie Saunders, from Midsomer Norton, was particularly struck by the sense of fun and friendship among the walkers. She said, “What a fab event! The atmosphere was electric – all those enthusiastic ladies, many of whom were dressed up: the camaraderie was joyous. As we walked through the night, seeing the illuminated bunny ears was really touching – and what girl power!”

The hospice currently looks after 700 patients and their families every day, and its aim over the next five years is to offer more care to more people. With no support from Macmillan or other national charities, and with just 30% of its costs covered by the NHS, Dorothy House relies on the support of local people to continue caring when it counts.

The Midnight Walk is the hospice’s biggest annual fundraiser, netting over £145,000 in 2011. The 2012 Bath Midnight Walk is open to all women aged 16 or above on 8th September 2012. The 8km circular route starts and finishes at SouthGate, and the entry fee is £15. To find out more, download an entry form or to sign up online, go to www.bathmidnightwalk.co.uk or call the Dorothy House fundraising team on 01225 721480.

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