Hospice says thank-you to tonight’s Midnight Walkers

Staff at Florence Nightingale Hospice at Stoke Mandeville hospital say thank you to the Gemstone Midnight Walkers - pictured are Sue Lacey, Sue Jenkins, Heather Wilkinson, Karen Billyard and Jenny Spencer-Jones
Staff at Florence Nightingale Hospice at Stoke Mandeville hospital say thank you to the Gemstone Midnight Walkers - pictured are Sue Lacey, Sue Jenkins, Heather Wilkinson, Karen Billyard and Jenny Spencer-Jones

Hundreds of ladies are preparing for the Midnight Walk in Aylesbury this evening in aid of the Florence Nightingale Hospice.

The event now in its fourth year is the charity’s biggest fundraising event of the year and to date has helped to raise over £200,000 in aid of the hospice.

The Gemstone Midnight Walk challenge will see ladies of all ages (12+) undertake a six or 13-mile walking challenge across Aylesbury – with 80% of walkers taking on the half marathon route this year.

The fun kicks off from 10pm at Aylesbury College where walkers will register and collect their walker numbers, bottle of water and energy-boosting banana courtesy of Budgens of Bedgrove, Jansell Square – which will keep them going until the first ‘pit-stop’ at the Cotton Wheel pub, Jackson Road, where refreshments and walker treats will be on offer.

The local Spar shop on Meadow Way is donating many of the walker ‘spur me on’ treats on the night.

Entertainment will be provided by Mix96, with a brand new staging area sponsored by the Game Club, Aston Clinton.

Local singer Alex Toye, plus other special guests, including local Rosemary Conley Diet & Fitness Club (RCDFC) club lead Joanna Beardsmore-Dilks, who will once again be taking to the stage to provide the all-important walker warm-up to get ladies limbered up before Aylesbury’s popular event sets off.

On the night, walkers will also be able to share personal messages on a ‘Memory Wall’ about why they are walking – often in memory of a loved one and request songs and dedications on the night.

Both the six and 13-mile routes will head out at Midnight from Aylesbury College, along the Oxford Road heading to the first all-important ‘pit-stop’ at the Cotton Wheel.

Then it’s onward to Bicester Road, heading to Fairford Leys, then down to the picturesque setting of Watermead – always a nice place for walkers to take photos and this will be also be the second walker pit-stop area.

Coming out of Watermead, walkers will make their way towards the Bierton Road, which will then lead six-milers to their finish line at Aqua Vale.

Here six-mile ladies can wind-down, rest their weary legs and indulge in some breakfast pastries and refreshments in Aqua Vale’s cafeteria (Aqua Vale staff have kindly volunteered their time on the night).

It will also be the first chance for many to catch a glimpse of the leisure centre’s brand new-look!

For the 13-milers, it’s onward, passing Aqua Vale to join the Tring Road.

This will see walkers continuing to pound the streets, pink flashing bunny ears in tow, all the way up to the Bedgrove roundabout, heading up to join the Wendover Road for the second all-important ‘pit-stop’.

Walkers will then stride on to Stoke Mandeville, passing the Florence Nightingale Hospice on the home straight which will see them heading back into town via Walton Street, passing Aylesbury’s Waterside Theatre - finally walking over Bourg Walk to complete the challenge – coming home to a cheering crowd and some much-needed rest and refreshments, courtesy of the Chartwells team, Aylesbury College, who will be providing free hot drinks to all walkers.

On completion of the Gemstone Midnight Walk challenge, all walkers will receive a souvenir medal, scrumptious breakfast and a goodie bag.

The hospice’s Sam Heggie said: “The sight of over 700 ladies in pink flashing bunny ears leaving Aylesbury College at Midnight is simply something not to be missed!”

“If you are out and about in the early hours of Sunday Morning, please show your support and give us a wave or cheer.

“We always have fantastic support from the local community and I know walkers really appreciate it as it really helps spur us on! We will, of course, endeavour to be as quiet as possible when going through residential areas.”

She added: “On behalf of everyone involved with the Florence Nightingale Hospice and Charity, the very best of luck and thank you to all those individuals lending a helping hand on the night through til the early hours of the morning.

“Your support really will make a huge difference to the lives of local families.”