WALKERS gathered on the South Downs Way as dawn broke on Saturday, to mark the end of Hospice Care Week.
More than 100 walkers were at Devil’s Dyke for the 20-mile South Downs Trek to raise money for St Barnabas House.
Most had personal reasons for taking part and thanks to their fundraising efforts, the event is on target to raise £40,000 for the Worthing hospice.
Nicky Ifould, events fundraiser, said: “This was the first time we organised this event, which marked the end of Hospice Care Week, and it exceeded all expectations.
“The camaraderie among the walkers was fantastic and some amazing fundraising has been achieved by the participants for St Barnabas House, through sponsorship, organising car boot sales, cake sales, quiz nights and accepting donations on and off-line.
“There were a dozen volunteers on the day helping with all aspects of the event and we are very grateful to all of them for their support.”
First to cross the finish line was Andy Burt, 45, from Herstmonceux, who is the director of clinical services for St Barnabas House.
Pleased with his finishing time of five hours 20 minutes, he said: “This has been a fantastic event to take part in. My fitness levels are reasonable but the route was quite a challenge. The views from the top of the Downs were stunning – the whole route along the South Downs Way was spectacular.
“Working for St Barnabas House, I am more aware than most how many people the hospice helps. On average, 100 people are cared for each day within the hospice itself or out in the community in patients’ own homes, and every person who took on the South Downs Trek challenge will help at least one person receive specialist hospice care.”
Second walker back, Chris Walsh, 32, from Goring, completed the walk in about six hours. He was walking in memory of his father, who was cared for by St Barnabas in 2010.
Chris said: “It was challenging but very enjoyable and well organised. I had a lovely day raising money for this amazing cause.”
The oldest walker was Valerie Bridle, 76, from Shoreham, who walked with son Mark Bridle, 52, from Burgess Hill. Walking in memory of their late husband and father who was cared for by St Barnabas 17 years ago. She has supported the hospice since her late husband was cared for there 17 years ago.
Raising more than £500, she said: “It was a little harder than we thought it would be, but we’re glad we made it. The views were beautiful.”
Walking in memory of their father, Chippy, were Ben Chapple, 33, Chris Taylor, 38, Kath Taylor, 35, and Helen Taylor, 29, who live between Littlehampton and Brighton.
They formed Chippy’s Gang in memory of their father, who would have been 72 on Friday but died at the hospice in December.
The siblings celebrated his birthday together on Friday evening, then trekked together on Saturday to thank the charity that had looked after him.
Widow Sue said: “Every single person who works or volunteers at St Barnabas House was so kind and helpful to our family and we know how heavily the charity relies on fundraising to be able to help families through their very difficult times.”
Wayne Bowring, Amy and Paul Hills, and Andy and Elli Buchan made up the VH Trekkers from Village House Hotel, Findon, and raised more than £1,600.
Team Trifle, a six-person team led by Trevor Barling from Sompting, raised more than £4,000 in memory of Trevor’s wife, Mo Barling. Trevor was walking with sons Josh, Nathan and Blake, and friends Joanne Henson and Nikki Nash.
Robert White from Worthing joined the truly international team, Walking Ducks, along with Christina Maehner from Germany, Lizette Oosthuizen from South Africa, and Emie Houweling from Holland. They raised £1,450.
Clare Dumbrell, 40, from Bognor Regis, walked with her dad, Dave, 68. They wanted to raise money in memory of a dear friend and had a welcome party with a homemade sign waiting for them at the finish line.
Deborah King and Meg Attrill, from Littlehampton, were walking in memory of Deborah’s father Terry Whelan, who received care and support from the Hospice at Home team.
Event volunteers included Ed Spicer from East Preston, Shirley Welman from Ferring, Sue Young from Goring, Teresa Cash from Littlehampton, Linda Upperton from Salvington.
Gantry volunteers included Eric Roberts from Southwick and Neil Aspinall from Worthing.
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