Men, women and children have walked Night to Remember together for the first time.
Shortly before the start of the 11th annual walk, everyone was told a collective total of £106,147 had been raised for St Barnabas House hospice in Worthing.
More than 1,000 people came from far and wide to join in the midnight walk on Saturday, starting at Worthing Leisure Centre at the earlier time of 10.30pm.
As in previous years, there were three different routes for walkers, covering seven miles, 13.1 miles and a challenging 20 miles to Shoreham and back.
First home were Vijaya Rudraraju, Rajini Kancheti, Jayatha Ponagoti, Kavitha Katti, Daniel Twine and Jade Twine, who completed the seven-mile walk in just over two hours.
Natasha Heppenstall, 45, and Lenka Bryning, 38, from Worthing were first to finish the 13.1-mile route, completing the walk in three hours, 25 minutes.
Julie Homewood, 45, from Bordon took four hours and 40 minutes to complete the 20-mile route and was the first walker home for that distance.
Julie said: “I took part in Night to Remember back in 2015 and did the half marathon. I was amazed at all the stories I heard from people and all the memory stickers people had. This year, I’ve come back and I’ve done the 20 mile.”
Many of those taking part in Night to Remember were walking in memory of a loved one, family member or friend cared for by the hospice.
Rosalind Froom, 42, from Haywards Heath took on the 13.1-mile route in memory of her father, Arthur Shearing, and mother, Janet Shearing, who lived in Small Dole and were cared for by St Barnabas House having been diagnosed with cancer.
She was joined by her son Oliver Froom, 11, daughter Emelia Froom, 13, and sister Caroline Dixon, 40, who made up the Shearing Superstars team. Between them they have raised more than £1,500.
Rosalind said: “St Barnabas House cared for both our mum and our dad at their end of life. The care that they received was fantastic and we just wanted to be able to give something back so that other families in the area can get the same support.
“Mum wanted to go to St Barnabas because that’s where dad passed away and she couldn’t fault the care he received so she knew what she was getting. We couldn’t fault it, they were just fantastic.”
Twins Samantha and Hannah Wisden, 25, were taking part in Night to Remember for the first time in memory of their grandfather, Tony Martin from East Preston, who died in March 2018 under the care of the hospice’s in-patient unit.
Along with Ben Wolstenhulme, 35, Samantha’s partner, the pair completed the 13.1-mile route, raising more than £500 in the process.
Samantha said: “My grandad was terminally ill and was a patient at St Barnabas at the beginning of the year. The care he received was amazing. He said he felt safe. Although it was the end of his life it gave him that quality of life.”
Two ladies who have cancer and have received care through the day hospice at St Barnabas House took on the walk on mobility scooters.
Kate Laker, 53, from Rustington and Della Heath, 47, from Lancing decided to do the 13.1-mile route in memory of Nina Hepworth who they became close friends with having met at the hospice.
Kate said: “They give so much back and we have to give so little to help. They need the money. At the end of the day they don’t get much government funding and we need to keep these services going. They are absolutely necessary.
“In any event St Barnabas House do, the staff and volunteers are everything. They are happy to be here. The atmosphere is always really good. I never see a sad face when people talk about St Barnabas.”
Kate and Della were joined by a team which also included Chris Hepworth, 46, from Upper Beeding, husband of Nina.
Chris said: “Nina was the inspiration for taking part. She passed away at St Barnabas and they gave us the opportunity to have as good a death as you can have. I had the opportunity to be there throughout. This is just a small token of appreciation.
“She was cared for in the in-patient unit for about ten days and the care shown by all the staff was absolutely faultless. I was provided the opportunity to stay there with her. When time is short and time is limited every moment is precious.”
Janet Smith, 65, from East Preston and Dee Heppenstall, 67, from Ford were walking in memory of their friend Gill Pearson from Worthing who had pancreatic cancer and was cared for by the hospice before she passed away in August 2017.
Janet said: “When our friend Gill was taken ill she spent her last few days at St Barnabas and we were just overwhelmed by the kindness and the individual attention she got. She was treated with immense respect by everybody there, whether it was reception, the doctors, nurses or volunteers. It made her last days bearable.”
Dee added: “When I was getting ready to come out tonight I felt proud to be doing this for Gill and for St Barnabas.”
The pair, who took on the seven-mile route, have raised around £500 for the hospice.
The money raised from this year’s Night to Remember will go towards the Hospice at Home service, which provides care for patients in their own homes across Worthing, Adur, Arun and Henfield.
A team of Hospice at Home nurses, Emma Kamau, Kathy Mardle-Aylett, Louise Grundy and Sam Hawkins, took part in Night to Remember.
Kathy, Hospice at Home manager, gave a motivational speech before the start of the walk, explaining how the walkers would be supporting the hospice.
She said: “Our Hospice at Home service was launched in 2012 and provides care for patients in their own homes. The service makes a really big difference to the care experience for local people and the demand for this service is ever growing.
“In 2014 we launched the Hospice at Home night service which allows our team to be there throughout the night, often the most difficult time for patients and their families, and there is a Hospice at Home night sitter out there tonight.
“By joining together to walk in Night to Rememeber, we can face the night united and show our support to hundreds of local people and families facing life-limiting illness.”
Worthing mayor and mayoress Paul and Sandra Baker and Worthing youth mayor Katie Waters went along to meet the walkers.
Mr Baker said: “This, over the years, has become such a major event in the town, and such a major fundraiser, everybody doing a wonderful job for a wonderful cause.
“You people are so inspirational in what you’re doing. I wish I could come round and thank everyone personally but I think we’d be here until the dawn. All I can say to all of you is thank you so much, everyone appreciates what you do.”
Lucy Brady, events fundraiser at St Barnabas House, was delighted with the turnout.
She said: “We decided to make some major changes to this year’s event by allowing men and children to take part and moving the start time forward to 10.30pm in order to make Night to Remember more family friendly. It has definitely paid off as we had the most walkers we’ve had taking part since 2015.
“We had lots of excitement on the night, including the energetic warm up led by Jo Clark from Fit4, entertainment by David Cunningham from More Radio, face painting by Tick Boom Face Painting and a Funky Photo Booth.”
Lucy said without the wonderful support of the community and local businesses, the hospice would not be able to run the event. She also thanked the team of more than 200 volunteers, including those who marshalled on the route, keeping walkers safe and offering refreshments and encouragement throughout the night.