On a bright and balmy Sunday morning, 30th June, hundreds of early birds took part in the first ever Guildford Sunrise Walk to raise vital funds for families supported by Shooting Star Children’s Hospices – raising £37,000 and counting.
Following the huge success of their Richmond Sunrise Walk at the beginning of the month, the leading local children’s hospice charity welcomed participants at the University of Law, which is just up the road from their Guildford hospice, Christopher’s.
A total of 307 participants, as well as 47 very excited dogs gathered in the beautiful grounds of the University at 3.30am to embark on this unique walk to raise money to support babies, children and young people with life-limiting conditions, and their families across Surrey and London.
The wonderful walkers took on two routes, a 10km and 20km through Surrey’s most beautiful and picturesque sights of the North Downs Way, including Loseley Park, St Catherine’s Lock and St Martha’s on the Hill all bathed in glorious dawn sunshine.
Before the walk, participants remembered loved ones by hanging decorated lanterns on a Celebration Tree to light the start line – and observed a minute’s silence to pay tribute to bereaved families supported by the local children’s charity.
Throughout the walk, participants were revived with some welcome refreshments at Loseley Park and St Martha’s on the Hill, who kindly opened the church for walkers to be able to light a candle in memory of loved ones and pause and reflect whilst taking in the stunning views across the countryside.
From little babies to our oldest walker at 78, groups, individuals, friends and families, this year’s walkers and their four-legged friends – smiled, strode and bounded their way throughout the routes, thankfully in much cooler temperatures than the day before.
In celebration of their achievements, the walkers were rewarded with a commemorative medal and cheers as they crossed the finish line. They also had the chance to recharge and refuel with a post-walk breakfast bap and refreshing drinks to enjoy in the sunshine.
Nigel Harding, Chief Executive at Shooting Star Children’s Hospices, said:
“It’s been amazing to bring our hugely successful Sunrise Walk to Guildford for the very first time and be on the doorstep of our Guildford hospice, Christopher’s. The event, now in its seventh year has always been so warmly received and it was wonderful to see so many supporters take part and raise funds for the families who are facing the unimaginable and desperately need our care and support.
“It was a real privilege to welcome the walkers at the start and to travel along the beautiful routes and see everyone thoroughly enjoying themselves. We are so grateful to all our participants who got up in the early hours and walked the long distances, and to all those who donated and showed their support. Thanks too must go to our wonderful volunteers who are always so dedicated and give up their time to help set up the event, marshal and cheer on our walkers.
“In this current financial climate and period of uncertainty, it’s becoming increasingly challenging to raise the vital funds we require to ensure we can provide our bespoke support and services. We are hopeful that our Guildford Sunrise Walk will exceed our target of £50,000 – which will make an immeasurable difference. We have had a record number of walkers take part across both of our Sunrise Walks and each and every one of them helps us make every moment count for the families we support.”