More than 1,400 north west London women walked the streets of Harrow and Brent last Friday night for the annual St Luke’s Hospice Midnight Walk and raised more than £180,000.
The women dressed themselves in luminous accessories and plenty of pink as they entered Harrow Leisure Centre to register. They then enjoyed a fun warm-up and entertainment led by AK Bollywood, Vincent De Lima and the Shree Muktajeevan Swamibap Dhol Academy before setting off on either the 5-mile or 9-mile challenge at the stroke of midnight.
Long-time supporter and fundraiser of St Luke’s Gopika Patel explained why she, and so many others, do it: “It is my third time I am taking part in the Midnight Walk and I am walking in memory of my sister.
“St Luke’s supported the whole family and my sister was at St Luke’s for the last 24 hours of her life. The Midnight Walk is an excellent event, it’s fun, happy and we really enjoyed it. Everyone is also really helpful.”
First time walker, Marcia John- Baptiste of Team Double Trouble, said: “I walked in honour of our close friend, Karen Tighe. St Luke’s is such a good cause and I also support the hospice by using and donating to the charity shops. It was the first time I took part and it was such a great atmosphere. I would encourage others to take part next time – life is too short and you should enjoy yourself.”
Tracey Ashley said: “I first saw an advert for the Midnight Walk in the Brent Magazine and decided to take part. I walked with a team call Step in Line. The atmosphere was good and buzzing. I would recommend that people take part as it is lots of fun. St Luke’s looked after my partner’s brother.”
It was the second time taking part for Anna Paton, Mary Markley, Karen MacDonald, Louise Hawkins, Achanda Neal and Amy Raws from the London Ambulance Service North West London who walked as The Blue Lights team.
They said: “We have worked with St Luke’s and in particular with the Single Point of Access Service (SPA). We took part in the walk for the first time last year and it’s a great event that brings the community together. We know how much St Luke’s relies on donations, so took part again. To help towards our fundraising target, we also organised a cake sale last week which raised £125. Everyone should take part as it’s a good cause and a great community spirit.”
Shrina Patel, whose grandmother was looked after at home by St Luke’s, said: “The Midnight Walk was well organised and had a great vibe. I also support the hospice by donating to the shops, they helped to look after my grandmother at home. If anyone is thinking about taking part next year – just do it.”
St Luke’s Director of Fundraising, Pam Russell spoke of just how important the walk is to the Hospice’s annual funding and thanked sponsors St George’s Shopping Centre in Harrow.
Pam said: “The Midnight Walk is our biggest event of the year and it is great to see people of all ages and all parts of the community coming together to support our patients. We would like to give a big thank you to our ladies who walked through the night and collectively raised an incredible amount for the hospice. We would also like to give a special thank you to all 250 volunteers who have helped with the planning of the event, supported us at Harrow Leisure Centre on the night or marshalled the streets to keep our walkers safe throughout the route.’
St Luke’s looks after people with cancer and other serious progressive illnesses, such as motor neurone disease and heart, lung and kidney failure. The hospice, which has long played an important role in community life in the area, prides itself that “at St Luke’s, no-one is just a patient”.
“We never lose sight of the person behind the disease. We help people feel that they matter, and that they are cared for, and that they can still make a valuable contribution to the lives of those around them. The teams at our hospice help people to live life to the full, for whatever time they have, no matter how long or short, at what is often an exceptionally difficult time. We focus on adding life to days, even when days can’t be added to life.
“The care we offer includes the treatment of physical symptoms, but also extends to consider the emotional, psychological, spiritual and social needs of our patients. Everyone in the family can be affected so Hospice Care also embraces families and friends by supporting them through the illness and into bereavement.
“Everyone is welcome at St Luke’s, whatever their race, religion, beliefs or lifestyle. Our clinical staff and spiritual care coordinator are specially trained to respect and facilitate spiritual, religious and cultural needs of any patient or family. We offer these people free Hospice Care either in their own homes or within the St Luke’s building,” said Beena Patel for the hospice.
St. Luke’s Hospice at a glance
• It costs over £3m pa to keep the hospice open
• As a charity less than third of its funding is from the NHS
• It provides 2924 days of in-patient care annually
• The Community Palliative Care Team makes more than 1100 home visits to patients
• An average of 40 patients a week are provided with Day Care
• It provides 1540 individual and 80 group complementary sessions every year
• The Hospice holds 685 bereavement counselling sessions
• It provides1502 sessions of psychosocial support for families and carers