Leading local children’s hospice charity, Shooting Star Children’s Hospices are encouraging people to come together and shine bright at the Sunrise Walk to support babies, children and young people with life-limiting conditions, and their families across London and Surrey.

The charity’s flagship annual event begins at the start of a brand new day setting off from Ham House in Richmond on Sunday 2nd June.

What’s more, this year there’s not one but two Sunrise Walks – with a brand new route in Guildford on Sunday 30th June which follows parts of the North Downs Way, including Loseley Park and St Martha’s on the Hill.

An event with a difference, the Sunrise Walk starts at 4.30am and gives walkers a chance to see the beautiful sights and picturesque surroundings as the sun rises – a perfect way to start a Sunday morning in June.

The Richmond route takes participants through beautiful Richmond Park – ideal for families with young children and depending on the route chosen, walkers will enjoy stunning sights including Richmond Hill, The Thames, Ham Common, Bushy Park and Hampton Court Palace all bathed in glorious dawn sunshine.

Supported mum Samantha O’Herilhy, from Bookham, is set to be a super Sunrise Walker this year, taking on not only the Richmond route but also the Guildford route this June. Samantha’s son Jack has been cared for by Shooting Star Children’s Hospices for three years at their Hampton hospice, Shooting Star House. Eight-year-old Jack has cerebral palsy, epilepsy and is blind.

Samantha said:

“Jack loves to go to Shooting Star House and laughs all the time when he visits. He enjoys swimming, playing music and taking part in sensory play. It’s great for him to have some independence and to get a chance to spend time with other children as his condition makes it hard for him to do so.”

Samantha will be joined by lots of friends on both walks and has been getting some training in for the event with her dog.

Samantha added:

“Walking is something I can do so I thought the Sunrise Walk was a great way to support Shooting Star Children’s Hospices.”

Both Richmond and Guildford routes have the options of a 10km or 20km route, giving everyone from family, friends (and even dogs!) a chance to enjoy the sights at their leisure.

Channelle Vincent, from Mitcham, will be walking the 20km Richmond Sunrise Walk in memory of her baby girl Iyla. Iyla, who was born at 24 weeks, suffered from chronic lung disease, and after an agonising few months, the family were told the devastating news that she wouldn’t survive. Channelle and her partner Darryl decided they wanted to transfer their daughter to Shooting Star House, the charity’s Hampton hospice, to spend some precious moments with their daughter and say goodbye. Iyla died in October 2018.

Channelle said:

“When we were told she wouldn’t make it, it felt like my world was ending. We decided to visit Shooting Star House and take a look around and immediately felt it would be a nicer environment to be in, and a place we could have the time to be with her, where I could comfort her, cuddle her and kiss her. Shooting Star Children’s Hospices are amazing; the staff are actual superhumans. They were there not just for Iyla, but the whole family, if we needed a hug, food, or just a cup of tea. At the hospice, we gave her a bath and made casts of her foot and hand and created a lovely memory box which we absolutely treasure.

“We were made to feel as though it was our home after she passed. We laid her in a cold room in a Moses basket and stayed in the family flats so we could see her whenever we wished to. Our Shooting Star Children’s Hospices key worker has offered me counselling and she is still regularly in touch to check in on how we are. As little as Iyla was, she made a big impact on a lot of people’s lives, and we all miss her so much every day.”

For the walk, Channelle is being joined by family and friends.

Channelle added:

“I’m feeling really excited and I am looking forward to the lanterns. We have been doing walks every weekend together, preparing ourselves. Having something to focus on and work towards is the best thing for me. Shooting Star Children’s Hospices need funding so they can carry on being rocks for other families’ at the most heartbreaking times of their lives.”

Participants at the Sunrise Walk have the opportunity to hang a lantern on a Celebration Tree to light at the start line to remember loved ones, and walkers can celebrate their achievements at the finish line with a post-walk picnic breakfast to recharge and refuel, a medal to mark the occasion and an opportunity to enjoy the atmosphere with fellow walkers. All Richmond medal holders are also welcomed by Ham House to explore the gardens free of charge.

Shooting Star Children’s Hospices hope to raise £90,000 in order to continue to provide a lifeline for the families they support, including practical and emotional care for the whole family. With only 10% of their income from government funding, they rely on their supporters’ generosity to raise the difference to ensure their service keeps running and they can continue to provide support for family’s like Jack and Iyla’s.

Entry fees range from £5 for a child and £20 – £25 for an adult, depending on the chosen route, and participants can receive 25% off by using discount code SAVE25.

To find out more and to sign up visit: www.shootingstar.org.uk/sunrise-walk

Event Timings and Information:

Richmond Sunrise Walk:

When: Sunday 2nd June at 4.30am
Where: Riverside Pitches, Ham House, Richmond, TW10 7RS

Guildford Sunrise Walk:

When: Sunday 30th June at 4.30am
Where: The University of Law, Portsmouth Road, Guildford, GU3 1HA