About 630 women from across Ashbourne and the rest of Derbyshire laced up their trainers to take part in Treetops Hospice's Moonlight Walk – raising a record £55,000. Caroline Jones reports.
IT was thanks to one meeting in the pub that Ashbourne was well represented in the Moonlight Walk.
Treetops Hospice nurse Liz Docker had taken part in the fund-raiser in previous years but had not expected to be doing it again this year.
The 56-year-old, from Buxton Road, said: "But then one of my friends said she wanted to do it and, because I'd taken part before, I said I'd join her.
"Then another friend signed up and, while the three of us were discussing it in the pub, two more overheard us and they decided to take part. It just snowballed from there.
"The walk is always great fun and there is such a wonderful atmosphere while you're doing it."
Liz was among a group of eight people from Ashbourne who took part in the event. Her team raised £700.
It is the fifth successive year that Treetops has organised the walk. This year's event raised a record £55,000, £2,000 more than 2013.
The women-only event, on Friday, June 27, started at 10pm – to coincide with the time the charity's nurses start their Hospice at Home shifts. Participants completed either a 5km or 10km circular walk around Derby city centre, starting at the University of Derby's Kedleston Road campus.
Among them was Brenda Homiak, known as B, who became one of the first people who uses the hospice's day care centre, in Risley, to take part. B, 47, uses a wheelchair after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis – a neurological condition which has no cure – six years ago.
She visits Treetops, which also has a charity shop in Ashbourne, every three weeks to take part in arts and crafts and receive therapy after a neighbour's daughter introduced her to it.
Accompanied by friends Jo Homer, 43, of Shirley Street, Sawley, and Jan Oldham, 51, of Langdon Close, Long Eaton, she said she was determined to give something back to the charity.
B, of Purbeck Close, Long Eaton, recalled how she was diagnosed with MS.
She said: "I was out shopping with friends when I noticed my left knee kept giving way and, although I'm not the type to go to my doctor, I knew I ought to find out what was wrong.
"When I was told I had multiple sclerosis, I thought, 'I might have it but I'm not going to let it get me'.
"That's why it's important to stay positive and I'm so pleased Treetops helps me do that. The staff don't call us patients – they call us guests – which is why doing this walk was the least I could do."
Others taking part included Kirstie Smith, 40, of City Road, Chester Green, Derby; her mum, Wendy Edwards, 63, also of City Road; sister Vanessa Wagg, 42, of Sutton Avenue, Chellaston; and friend Sheena Cameron, 41, of Kedleston Road.
Kirstie said she wanted to take part following two operations, after she suffered years of back pain which left her struggling to walk.
She said: "I needed an MRI scan, physio, acupuncture and then had an operation which was successful for six months – but then the pain came back 10 times worse.
"So I had another operation in July last year to put a cage around my spine and now I'm pain free.
"I used to watch the women walking down my road and thought how much I would love to do this but never could. So, I'm really glad I got to take part this year."
Emily Conroy, 40, of Hallam Fields Road, Ilkeston, took part with her daughter, Olivia, 17, in memory of her grandmother, Ivy Poole, 88, who died in 2010 after suffering from motor neurone disease.
Emily said: "My mum always said she was indebted to Treetops for the help the staff gave her looking after my nanna.
"At the time, we couldn't be there because my husband is in the armed forces and we were doing a lot of travelling, so to know there was someone looking after my nanna was such a relief. That's why we wanted to do what we could to support Treetops."
Treetops founder Cally Cheetham was there to start the race, which was organised by Treetops fund-raisers Mary Rose and Rosie Coates.
Mary said: "It was an incredible night and all the ladies had a great time.
"It's been emotional, too, because many women are here after losing loved ones to cancer and other life-limiting illnesses."
Rosie said: "We're thrilled with how much money the event has raised. It all goes back into caring for people. Everyone at Treetops would like to say a big thank-you to all the ladies who took part."