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Big-hearted care home “super seven” step up in aid of hospice

Pendine Park Staff who will be taking part in this years Midnight walk for Nightingale House Hospice; (From Left) Nicola Jones, Patsy Swift, Jo-anne Humphreys, Helen Gourlay, Ava Seabrook and Hillbury Manager Cindy Clutton. Picture Mandy Jones

A care home’s ‘Super Seven’ have vowed to smash a £1,000 fundraising target they set themselves in aid of a hospice.

The septet of energetic staff members from Pendine Park’s Hillbury House Care Home, Wrexham, are taking on the famous 10-mile Nightingale House Hospice Midnight Walk on June 25.

“I really believe we can smash our £1,000 target,” said care practitioner Jo-Anne Humphreys, who alone has already amassed pledges of £200 worth of sponsorship in the short time since announcing they were doing the walk.

Hillbury manager Cindy Clutton is also among the team and is the only one of them who has stepped up to the challenge before.

She said: “It’s such a worthwhile cause, an exhilarating and fun challenge. I loved it last time I took part and I can’t wait to once raise money for  the fantastic Nightingale House Hospice.”

Also putting their best feet forward are Cindy’s deputy, Patsy Swift, and fellow staff Nicola Jones, Ava Seabrook, Stacey Sutton and Helen Gourlay.

Helen will be walking in memory of her late father David Gourlay a former patient at Nightingale House, which offers care for individuals and their families living with a diagnosis of a progressive and/or life-limiting illness.

She and her family were overawed by the high standard of care and the emotional support they received through her father’s terminal illness, including being allowed to stay overnight with him towards the end.

“We will never forget how wonderful everyone at Nightingale House was with us at such a difficult time in our lives,” she said.

“They could not do enough for us. They were all really lovely,  brilliant with my disabled mum and so accommodating of our every need. Our community is blessed to have such an excellent service.

“I urge everyone to get behind this important charity. Without public donations it would not exist and it has had to endure such difficult times lately.”  

This year is the first time The Midnight Walk has been held since before the start of the pandemic.

The event was previously organised by Nightingale House for 13 years running and it annually attracted hundreds of entrants from across the region. The last midnight walk was in 2019 and it was intended to be the final time it would be organised by the hospice.

But Nightingale House has sorely missed many of its usual fundraising events which had to be cancelled over the last two years due to Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns and social distancing restrictions.

Such events are a vital means of topping up the community hospice funds chest. So this year due to popular demand it was decided to bring back the walk.

Jo-Anne Humphreys said: “I’m so glad they did. This much-loved event is such a public spirited occasion when people can remember lost loved ones and do their bit to help others going through tough times. It is inspiring and uplifting, which is what we all need right now.”

She is walking in memory of her late dad Don Humphreys, her uncle the late Peter Humphreys, who received care at the hospice and her brother’s girlfriend Sarah Rowley, who passed away at Nightingale House in February 2021, aged just 34.

Patsy Swift is paying tribute to her granddad and nan, Fred and Margaret Ord, while Nicola Jones is also walking in memory of her grandparents, Bob and Lily Clancy and Eddie and Brenda Jones.

The team all received bright neon Orange Nightingale House Midnight Walk tee-shirts with their registration packs, which they will wear on the evening, along with pink headbands adorned with ‘bunny ears’.

The 12-bed facility offers a wide range of facilities, including specialist palliative care services completely free of charge to local people and their families with life-limiting illness. Patients come from Wrexham, Flintshire, Denbighshire and outlying areas. In 2022 it will cost £4,041,617 million to run the hospice, which equates to more than £11,000 a day.

In addition to the 12 in-patients beds, it has a 15 patient Day Services Unit, an out-patient clinic, occupational therapy, complementary therapies, physiotherapy including a hydrotherapy pool and an ambulance service. A range of bereavement support services are also offered including a specialist service for children and young adults.

Cindy Clutton said: “We all know of people who have turned to Nightingale House and received tremendous support from them.

“Working in a care home ourselves we are acutely aware how much such support is desperately needed and valued by people in heartbreaking situations.

“We just wanted to do something to support the service and help ensure it is there for our community for many years to come.”

As well as the excitement of joining the walk she is also looking forward to the pre-event activities which begin at Llwyn Isaf, Wrexham, at 9pm on Saturday, June 25. Entrants pay a £15 fee to take part in one of two events – the 10 mile course, or a shorter 10K option.

Before the whistle blows to start the main event, there will be live entertainment, music and warm up exercise sessions led by motivational coach Dewi Jones.

Then as the dawn sky welcomes walkers to the finishing tape they will be greeted by free tea and coffee, and light snacks.

Cindy said: “It will be a long night but well worth it. We thank all our sponsors in advance for any amount of support that they can give us.”

The team have opened an online Just Giving fundraising page at https://www.justgiving.com/team/Hillbury for people to sponsor their walk or just make a one-off donation to the cause.