AS DUSK fell across Sheffield, hundreds of people turned out to show their support for St Luke’s Hospice and its first ever Starlight Walk.
The event was organised as the main fundraiser in a year celebrations to mark the charity’s 40th anniversary.
And organisers were thrilled with its success - as nearly 1,000 people of all ages, from babies in pushchairs to hospice patients in wheelchairs, completed the 5km walk through Endcliffe Park to Forge Dam and back.
Leading the group through the lantern-lit park was St Luke’s mascot Fran Horsfield - dressed as a silver star.
The 23-year-old, from Dronfield, said: “I always seem to get the job of coming along and dressing up as one thing or another!
“There’s such a good turnout and a brilliant atmosphere – it’s been really great.”
James Cosgrove was another ‘star’ taking part - as a thank you for the support he receives at the hospice’s Therapies and Rehabilitation Centre every Wednesday.
James, who was joined by wife Janet and daughter Maxine Sorsby, along with other family and friends, has been attending for the past four months after being given a terminal diagnosis when the malignant melanoma he has suffered twice before returned.
He said: “Right from the first day I went to St Luke’s they welcomed me with open arms - it was unbelievable.
“I’ve been going every week since then to receive various treatments and take part in arts and crafts sessions - it’s something I really look forward to. When I heard about the Starlight Walk I knew I wanted to take part and give something back.”
Many of those walking did so in memory of loved ones who had received care and support at St Luke’s before they died.
‘Trev’s Treasures’ - made up of Trevor Fairfax’s widow Jean, daughter Alison Beecroft and son-in-law Michael, daughter-in-law Tracy and grandson James - signed up in honour of Trevor, who spent five weeks at the hospice before his death two years ago at 64.
Jean, aged 66, from Brincliffe, said: “We know he would think this walk is fantastic - and would be doing it himself if he was here.”
Former St Luke’s counsellor Andrea Pedley had also signed up - dressed in a T-shirt adorned with ribbons representing loved ones lost as well as those who had sponsored her in the event.
Although now living in Ashover, Derbyshire, the 54-year-old is still a regular supporter of the charity.
“The hospice is still very close to my heart,” she said. “Everyone is working to the same aim, to raise money to support the amazing work the hospice does.”
Elaine Thornhill - a member of the Big Star and the Twinkles team which has already raised more than £700 in sponsorship - was walking in memory of her sister Andrea Giblin, who stayed at St Luke’s before her death from cancer in 1989.
The 58-year-old from Shiregreen said: “The people and the place are just beautiful. Andrea was there for three weeks and it was the best place she could have been.”
Many had turned out in fancy dress for the occasion – which featured a host of other attractions including live music, fire-eating displays, a bouncy castle and face-painting.
Struggling with his costume during the group workout, Alistair Beverley – dressed as a woman wrapped in a bright orange towel and full make-up - said he and the Escafeld Brass Band were thrilled to be out supporting St Luke’s, the band’s nominated charity for the year.
Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield was also there, taking part in a team which included his wife, MEP Linda McAvan.
He said: “What a fantastic turn-out!
“It just shows how people in Sheffield feel about St Luke’s and the great job it does.”
Una Moran, director of fundraising at the hospice, said everyone was “over the moon” with the success of the inaugural event.
“We are obviously delighted to have had such an incredible amount of local support from people across the city and it has been a fantastic night where everyone has enjoyed themselves.”