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Record number of onesie wearers take Ashford by storm for Pilgrims

Posted on 1 July 2013

In their multi-coloured onesies, stripy pyjamas, flashing night caps and fluffy slippers: the nightwear army was out in force this Saturday night for Pilgrims Hospices popular Pyjama Walk.

Led by their friendly bear mascot, Raffles, walkers came from across Kent and as far as Guildford to show their support for the charity by taking on the 10k sponsored walk and following this year’s hottest fashion trend to have ‘Funsie in their onesies’!

As darkness fell, over 1,120 walkers gathered at the start line at Ashford Designer Outlet, smashing the charity’s record and early indications are that the event will beat last year’s total raised of £50,000 to go straight into providing free care for local people.

Speaking from beneath a large green crocodile onesie was regional fundraising manager for Pilgrims, Nigel Donkin who with his team of staff and volunteers masterminded the event: “We promised our walkers they would have funsie in their onesies and on the night they did us proud.”

“We are so grateful to everyone who came along and made for such a fun family atmosphere, as well as to everyone who sponsored the event, volunteered on the team and to Ashford Designer Outlet for letting us take over their space! 75% of our funding comes from the local community and it is great when they come out in force for the walk. It’s been a sterling effort.”

John “Webbo” Webster from AHBS Community Radio breakfast show kicked-off the entertainment for the night, along with the very popular local choir, Ashford Sings! performing lively show stoppers such as Elton John’s “I’m still standing’ and Queen’s “We are the champions’. Then the Rosemary Conley Fitness team led stretches and dancing to get everyone warmed up.

Amidst the lively atmosphere, were some emotional moments with many of the walkers taking part because of a personal connection to Pilgrims Hospices and 100’s paying tribute to loved ones on the Memory Wall.

Caron Branson, a day hospice patient at Pilgrims Hospice, had wanted to take part with daughters Emma (14) and Hayley (11) but it was looking unlikely at first as she would need a wheelchair and her daughters were unable to push for the whole distance.
Then gallant Ashford firefighters came to her aid, putting a team together to take turns wheeling Caron around the route. Clad in their finest uniform onesies, they made her night a memorable one.

Getting out of her wheelchair to walk the last steps across the finish line on her own, Caron said: “I am so pleased I have done this, and that I managed all of it. I’ve never done anything like this before and I definitely want to do it next year.
“Nigel from Pilgrims arranged all this for me and I couldn’t have done it without his support. It’s been great having the firemen’s help, and a great night. What’s been the best bit? All of it!”

Caron said the care overall she has received throughout her illness at the hospice has important to her and her family: “Things would have been so much harder if I had not had the support of a dedicated team of nurses and volunteers at Pilgrims.”
Dan Halligan, crew manager of White Watch added, “We were really happy to help Caron out as well as support Pilgrims Hospices. It gave the lads some good exercise on the night!”

Anne Gavin from Maxton, Dover and daughter Claire Gavin (20) came for the first time and said they would definitely be back next year. Said Anne: “My father in law was in hospice care for three years and they did such a good job looking after him there, and when he came home to die. We really wanted to support our local hospice and give something back. We’ve raised £327.50 in sponsorship and we’ve really enjoyed the evening.”

David Maddison, Centre Manager at Ashford Designer Outlet, says: “The Pilgrims Hospice Pyjama Walk, which started and finished at Ashford Designer Outlet, was a resounding success once again, with well over a thousand people coming down to the centre to take part. We have always been proud to be involved with such a worthwhile cause, and once again, we are delighted with the turnout and the awareness raised for specialist palliative care for the people of east Kent.”

* For the full selection of pictures from the event please Like our Facebook page and check us out on Flickr later today!


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