On a bright and fresh Sunday morning, 17 October, hundreds of early birds took part in the Guildford Sunrise Walk to raise vital funds for families supported by Shooting Star Children’s Hospices – raising £33,000 and counting.
After 840 long days since the last in-person Sunrise Walk, the charity welcomed back walkers to take on their flagship event, setting off from the University of Law, which is just up the road from their Guildford hospice, Christopher’s.
Walkers gathered with torches at the ready to set off at 6.30am 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 misty autumnal sunlight.
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.
This year’s walkers made up of groups, individuals, friends and families, and their four-legged friends – smiled, strode and bounded their way throughout the routes, thankfully in dry, if not a little chilly, conditions.
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 grounds.
Alexa Dizon, Head of Challenge Events at Shooting Star Children’s Hospices, said:
“It was amazing to finally bring the return of our hugely successful Sunrise Walk to Guildford. The Sunrise Walk series, now in its eighth year has always been so warmly received, so with the effects the pandemic had on our events last year, it was all the more special to welcome our wonderful walkers back in person to take on this unique experience and to raise huge funds for the families who rely on our vital care and support.
“A huge thanks to everyone who took part and got up in the early hours in October and walked the long distances, and to all those who donated and showed support. Special thanks to Charles Stanley for sponsoring our T-shirts as well as participating and of course thanks 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 – it really wouldn’t be possible without them! We’re looking forward to welcoming walkers back next summer 2022 at our Richmond and Guildford Sunrise Walks!”